Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for December 2020

Holiday Blues

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Folks, I know I haven’t been around online (so to speak) in a few weeks. Some of that is because I’ve been busy editing. Some of that is because of the time of year. And some is because of health-related reasons (as per usual for winter).

As I’ve said over the years, holidays are hard for me. I miss my husband, and my best friend Jeff, and my grandma, and my aunt and uncle…along with many other friends and family members who’ve gone before me. It’s also been just over a year since I lost my canine companion, Trouble, and I miss him a lot, too.

I know the holidays aren’t just about getting and giving stuff. You’re supposed to express your appreciation for others. You’re supposed to let other people know that you care. And you’re supposed to feel grateful that you made it through another year.

I suppose I do feel all those things, but 2020 has been one Hell of a year. Between the coronavirus (Covid-19), the U.S. election and its aftermath, the lack of help forthcoming from most of the various governments (city, state, and federal — though to be fair, the city is hamstrung by the state’s lack of response, and the state is hamstrung by the federal lack of response in its turn), and the general feeling of malaise, 2020 is one year I’ll be happy to put in the rear-view mirror.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to get up, get moving, keep trying, and doing whatever I can. But I will continue to do just that, in the hopes that it makes a difference down the line.

I will tell you one resolution I’ve already made, pre-New Year’s Day: Somehow, in 2021, I am going to find a way to write more. (Not just blogs, either.) Doing that should help me feel more positive, motivated, and focused.

And even if it doesn’t, it will remind me that I’m not all about drudgery, hard work, sacrifice, and more of the same. Though there’s nothing wrong with any of those things (well, maybe drudgery), that’s not the sum total of who I am.

Anyway, in case I don’t post again before the New Year, may you and yours have a festive holiday season (whatever you celebrate). Enjoy the good times, and store them up in your heart, even if they need to be held virtually for the time being due to the pandemic.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 22, 2020 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Who Edits the Editor?

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As I wanted to talk about editing today — especially since I’ve been doing a great deal of it over the past few weeks (thus almost no blogs) — I figured a catchy title might lure you in. (Did it work?)

Anyway, the question of “who edits for you, Barb?” has come up among my devoted readership. And as the answer is complicated**, I thought I could maybe make a blog out of this, remind you all I’m still alive and kicking, and help give you some idea of what I go through when I talk with my editor(s).

I am fortunate to have two very good mentors. Both are excellent editors in their own right. They are so good, that when I feel overloaded, I tell people to please check with them. (As they are both in high demand themselves, I am not going to name them. But trust me: they exist, and they’re damned good.)

Now, because I haven’t had anything ready to go for over a year, I mostly have just talked with my mentors over this when they have been able to come up for air. I trust them, I trust their judgment, and I believe them when they say something needs to be cut, something needs to be added, and/or something needs to be changed.

Because I can speak frankly with them, I try to offer the same level of frankness to my editorial clients. I want those who deal with me to know they can trust me, and my judgment, and be able to bounce ideas off me if they’re in distress…or even if they aren’t, and just want to chat about stories with someone they know who “gets it.”

But frankness does not necessarily equal bluntness. (Trust me, though; I can be quite blunt, when need be.) It does mean I try to give praise as well as criticism, and I hope my critiques are constructive rather than destructive. And it also means that I do my best to let my clients know I understand their stories, and what they’re going for; if I didn’t, how could I possibly do any good for them?

My view, as an editor, is to help my clients refine and improve their own work. I want them to sound like the very best versions of their writing style, in order to bring out all the specialness and sense of wonder they have in their own creation, while polishing up the various rough edges as much as I can without taking the freshness/uniqueness of their viewpoints out.

And what I look for in an editor, and have been privileged to find it with two wonderful editors who happen to be my friends, boils down to this:

  1. How well do they communicate?
  2. How well do they understand what I’m doing?
  3. How can they best help me help myself?

Ultimately, it all comes down to trust. Without trust, there is no communication; without trust, there is no understanding; without trust, there is no willingness to work together to find better solutions.

So I urge you, when looking for an editor, to find someone you can trust who has the skills you need in order to help you polish your work to its utmost.

And if you, like me, manage to find a good friend in your editor(s), so much the better.


**As I said, the answer is a bit complicated. I, myself, can look at something if I’ve had some time in between me writing it and me going to edit it and get the ball rolling. But unless time is pressing and my editor-friends are unavailable, I am going to ask one or both of them to help me every single time. Because I’m not stupid; I know I tend to see what I think is there, rather than what actually is.

And I do this for the same reason everyone else does. I have it set in my head that I wrote X, which means I’ll only see X. But I might actually have Y, Z, AA, BB, CC, DD, or something totally incomprehensible…which is why I, too, need editing. (You expected me to say anything else?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 4, 2020 at 5:39 am