This is the first post in a series of posts on how I am learning to pick apart my own work; at least it feels as if I am picking it apart. I guess from a different perspective, it could be viewed as me learning to critique my work. I hope that learning to self-edit will help make my writing stronger and clearer. Maybe other people can learn from my process, and benefit from the struggle I am heading into.

This is Writing Lesson #1 of …? (I have no idea how many lessons this will take)

I hate finding mistakes in my own work. I fight to make sure there are none that can be picked out, but they keep showing up. The story below is original, with no editing. After writing it, I forced myself to “nitpick” four things about it that I need to change. I really didn’t want to change a thing, but after giving it some thought, I had decided that I would rather find the mistakes or bumps in the story, instead of someone else finding them for me. So, for the sake of learning, you get to see my story in it’s raw, mistake-filled, and bumpy state.

————-Start Story
Dire – Wings – Desert – Building (Four random words that I used as a writing prompt)

Padding through the soft, wispy sand, Dire gazed with gold eyes at a far-off speck of a building. Glancing around her for any sign of peeping eyes, she tore off her backpack and slung it across one shoulder. Unfurling her wings when she felt a whisper of wind, she looked up and leaped into the air. A flock of sparrows chirped softly to welcome their frequent visitor yet again. Angling her downy wings up, so as to catch the pockets of wind, Dire lifted up even further. After the wind vanished in her portion of the sky, Dire could hear the beating of her own wings. She had reached it, the air-hole in the sky. The air-hole was the absence of wind, and so very few of her kind had flown so high as to experience it. Softly gliding down, Dire twisted into the air, to land in the ever-shifting desert. Quietly, she landed on the sand, and her wings folded against her back, and she tossed her backpack onto both shoulders, hiding the fragile wings. She landed in the perfect spot, a walkable distance from the inn, but not too close.

“Mhm. I would like a loaf of bread and a room, I’ll be staying for just a night.”

“Right, that’ll be eleven hakas.”

Dire counted out the hakas, their form of currency. “Here, thanks.” The innkeeper nodded, and distracted by the hakas, handed her the loaf of bread.

“Second floor, very back left. That’s your room.”

“Got it, thanks.”

Glancing around the creaky wooden room, Dire sighted the stairs and plodded up them. Walking down the hallway, she stopped at the end and turned to the left, and walked inside the room.

—————— To be continued…..(Dun Dun Dun!)

This, obviously, is not a finished piece of writing – this is just how some of my writing starts. I get an idea and in 30 minutes or less, I end up with a couple pages of writing. I probably have at least 20 or so pieces of work just like this one; unfinished and just waiting for me to work on them. I know there are some places in the story that I need to edit, and some words that I need to change to make the reader see what I really want to describe, but, this is where I start.

My lesson this week was to admit to myself that my work can be edited. Editing and changing does not mean that I “didn’t do it right”, editing and changing actually helps to make my writing better. This is a very hard lesson for me. My task was to read my story and find some flaws, not all the flaws, just some.

Here are some areas that need changing:
1) Need better descriptions that fit what they are describing. (sand)
2) Need transition into dialogue. (how did she get inside? Inside where?)
3) The actions in my mind do not match the actions that the words describe (twisted into the air, to land…)
4) Everything happens too fast – I need to add filler/transitions and details.

It’s uncomfortable editing and critiquing your own writing – I have been trying to avoid that uncomfortable feeling for a long time. These posts are my way of learning to deal with the discomfort, and develop better writing skills and habits. I hope that I can learn to freely edit my own writing in the coming weeks, and I hope you will be able to see the improvement in my writing as I learn.

Lesson #1. I’m human. I make mistakes.


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