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What I’ve learned from other writers

I spent many years in publishing as a writer, copy editor, and managing editor. I have worked with dozens of writers during that time and they taught me a lot. For one thing, each one’s writing reflects his or her unique personality, style and outlook on life. The hardest part of editing is allowing the writer’s voice to shine through while polishing the prose. The editor’s job is to clear away the smoke so the fire can show through.

Rewriting John Bunyan’s brilliant allegory of the Christian life, The Holy War, in modern language was a learning experience for me. The truths about the spiritual battle that Bunyan put forth in that book are just as applicable to us today as they were when written 500 years ago. But the prose? Not so much.

My task was to keep the meat but render it in terms the modern reader can understand and relate to, without losing Bunyan’s unique voice. The book was published by Ichthus Publications in 2015 and is still selling well. ( It is published under my real name, Dolores Kimball. My fiction is published under my pen name, D.M. O’Byrne.)

Another thing I’ve learned about writers is that each one considers her writing to be an extension of herself, kind of like her child. If you criticize a writer’s child, you should expect a response. Some are crushed by criticism, no matter how constructive or well-intentioned. Writers are fiercely loyal to their work.

Some are so disappointed by rejections from agents or publishers that they stop writing altogether. It helps to remember that ALL successful writers are rejected numerous times before finally being accepted. If J.K. Rowling had given up after being rejected, she wouldn’t now be the second richest woman in the U.K.

Writers are creative. They are artists. But if they’re not also craftsmen, their writing will most likely fail. Creative types like to allow their fancy to take them wherever it will. Discipline is not the writer’s strong suit. But just like children, it’s only when they develop the ability to control and direct the creative impulse that their creativity is truly able to shine.

I’ve loved working with other writers. I love reading their work. I love the journey we are all on together.

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