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Posts Tagged ‘editing’

It’s no surprise Valentine’s week involves a lot of treats, sweets, and baked goods.  Hallmark has been successful at infusing the day with the “if you don’t give something to someone else, you suck” attitude into a day where you should be only required to say “I love you.”  Ironically, I did minimal baking and felt hella guilty because of it.  But the one thing I did get to creating were owl cookies for my kids’ teachers.

I’d been pinning all sorts of owl projects to my Pinterest wall because of it being the mascot to Kiddos’ elementary school.  Yes, I’m one of those goober moms who tries to stick with the school spirit theme in my gifts to the administration.  The owls were from The Adventures of Sugarbelle and were the perfect choice with the heart-shaped faces.  Instead of pink and gray, I thought I was “oh so clever” by using the school colors of green, gold, and purple.  This is what it looked like when I was finished:

Aren't these owls filled with school spirit so freakin' cute?

There was excitement and cooing over the cuteness of the finished design.  I got my daughter’s sign off she thought it was cute enough for her best teacher ever and the teacher’s aide they call “Grandma.”  She even asked for an extra to go to another one of her favorite people, the librarian.  (This makes my heart swell and melt at the same time.)

Then I took a second look at the cookies and I could no longer find the face of an owl.  All I could see was Day of the Dead cookies with colorful skeleton faces.  Now look again:

Who's celebrating Day of the Dead in February?

Same picture, but a totally different way of looking at it.  Panic set in about the school administration wanting to know why I’m sending skeleton heads as signs of love and appreciation.  I wasn’t sure if it would give the same sentiment of “Thank you for inspiring my children” as a friendly owl head might.  So I spent the next hours asking people what they thought it looked like.  There was a Facebook post to see if anyone else saw the same thing I did.  Poor Hubs had to answer the question about ten times over.

This happens to fall at the same time as I’m editing my work in progress.  I have super notes from my crit partner pointing out things I never thought of during those first couple drafts.  It’s so funny to see things I never even imagined before and now they are so obvious.  It’s one more confirmation I’m on a good path of growth in my writing life.

While the cookie was received, liked, and hopefully consumed, the WIP is still in process.  Soon I’ll have another set of notes and see even more details I hadn’t before.  When it’s finally done, I’ll have confidence in a piece I love and can’t wait to share.

Having a second or third pair of eyes is a benefit in any creative process.  They can point out what’s lacking or support what’s right.  After critique partners and beta readers, I won’t have to worry about the insecurity of asking a million scattered people for their opinion.  Most will see what I want them to, but maybe a handful will see the unintended symbol of death.  And that’s okay.  That’s the awesome thing about creativity.  Everyone gets out of it what they want.

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Some of you might ask what I would have written about if I didn’t get into cookie making this year.  Well, I will have you know, I would have paralleled the writing experience with some other creative form.  But for now, you will have to be amazed (as I am) with the similarities of creating a novel and baking up a batch of goodies.  Both delicious!

Today it’s about cookie cutters.  The irony is that in writing, “cookie cutter” is probably not the term you want to hear when someone is describing your work.  You want ground-breaking, original, mind-blowing…Uh, you want Hunger Games.  But even the awesomeness of Hunger Games can be compared to other works, which brings me back to the cutters.

The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle is this fantastic cookie site.  I mean, the stuff that woman can create on a cookie is out of this world.  Recently she touched on the fact that sometimes it’s the least expectant cookie cutter which makes the best shape.  Instead of confining the metal cutter to one image such as a Santa Claus, she shows a little imagination to pipe it into a Chewbacca.  She doesn’t look at what it’s supposed to do, she looks for what it can do.  She steps back, takes inventory, and creates something surprising.

What a great reminder as I sit on my hands for a few weeks while my current work in progress cures.  Yes, I literally have to sit on my hands to keep from going back to tinker with it.  What’s the harm? you might ask.  Getting a jump on the revisions sounds like a great idea to getting to a finished product faster.  That’s what I used to think to before I applied it to my previous novels.  What I found was I edited little pieces to death, maybe making a Santa Claus cutter into a Mrs. Clause or even a snow man, but it wasn’t anything too far off from what I started with.  In the end, my story had some tweaks to it, but it wasn’t the best it could have been.

I’m sure Sugarbelle faced the same thing.  She didn’t buy jolly old St. Nick and imagine Chewbacca right off the bat.  She had to use it as Santa, wait a while with it sitting in the Christmas cutters pile, think of other shapes which share the pattern and even tinker around with piping some failed cookies.  (Maybe a tragic looking Mark Hamill was eaten without regret.)  But once she did see the possibilities, it opened a whole new world.  It wasn’t only Chewbacca, she saw a Yoda in a spider, a storm trooper out of a skull, and those Princess Leia buns from a peppermint candy.

My hope is I will have the same inspiration after giving it some time.  There have been many lessons learned over this year to improve my overall craft.  Most authors agree you need time away from your project to see it any differently than you originally meant.  In the excitement of wanting to finish, there is the urge to rush.  Sugarbelle’s cookies are a great reminder that with time many more ideas have a chance to bounce around your head.  The failed can be left behind (or consumed) without sadness because what will be left is a masterpiece.

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