My brain is sputtering again.
I know I wrote about this yesterday. I wish these “stuck” moments could be willed or magicked away just by identifying them alone, but no. Sometimes, the way out is seen, but it takes a long time before we can get there.
I have to remind myself that no one expects a perfect first draft. Well, I suppose that is not true. *I* expect a perfect first draft – but that is not a realistic expectation. Sometimes, we just need to blargh all over a page and hope something – maybe one brilliant sentence – can be saved. Other times, it is a really long, painful throat clearing.
I love that phrase.
Bellamy Shoffner, of Hold the Line Magazine, was my first REAL editor and though it was painful when she critiqued my submission last year for their inaugural issue, I knew it was good for me. That if I wanted to improve as a writer, to level up my craft, then I would have to be comfortable with criticism.
She declared the first 2-300 words of my submission as an extensive throat clearing and X’d them all out.
I won’t lie. It stung a bit. I often find my blathery parts the most delightful to re-read. (Yes, I obsessively re-read myself. It helps me internalize my voice – and um, fine. It’s because I really enjoy drinking my own Kool-Aid.)
However, it was much easier because I could tell that Bellamy had my good in mind. That she genuinely liked what I had to say and wanted only to help me express the essence of my idea in a way that was most clear and most effective. (And if she didn’t, she was really good at faking it!)
[clickToTweet tweet=”Sometimes, we just need to blargh all over a page and hope something – maybe one brilliant sentence – can be saved. Other times, it is a really long, painful throat clearing. #amwriting #onwriting #asianwriter” quote=”Sometimes, we just need to blargh all over a page and hope something – maybe one brilliant sentence, can be saved. Other times, it is a really long, painful throat clearing.” theme=”style1″]
I knew she had my good in mind. That made all the difference.
She “loved” me in a way that I had not experienced before in terms of work, and I was so ready to receive what she offered.
I could have bristled at her edits and suggestions. I’m sure if I had handed in a tighter piece, (at least, in my mind), I might have reacted differently. I could have also folded up shop and told her that the more “academic” type of writing was not for me – that I was strictly an op-ed/personal essay type of girl, but I am glad I stuck it out.
I am grateful for Bellamy’s time and labor in my work; she could have easily written me off or dropped a hammer (or anvil or piano) and crushed my hopes of being a writer in a new capacity – but she didn’t.
[clickToTweet tweet=”If I wanted to improve as a writer, to level up my craft, then I would have to be comfortable with criticism. #amwriting #onwriting #asianwriter #beteachable #failforward” quote=”If I wanted to improve as a writer, to level up my craft, then I would have to be comfortable with criticism.” theme=”style1″]
Bellamy is just one of the many black women who have invested in me and when I look back on my life thus far, I see a little more clearly just how many black women have extended their friendship and mentoring and knowledge to me.
I have started and stopped a post countless times on why I love black women. I have yet to break the piece satisfactorily.
But perhaps, instead of some preachy, treacly piece extolling the virtues of black women in general, I can highlight the individual black women who have marked and shaped my trajectory and changed me for the better.
I am smiling just thinking about it.
If you want to check out Hold the Line’s second issue, it just came out today! (Pun unintended! You’ll get it when you see the topic.)