“Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer’s work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader’s recognition in himself, of what the book says, is the proof of the book’s truth.” ―Marcel Proust
I saw this and it utterly amused me. I hope all my fellow writers/artists can enjoy this one.
The title sounds slightly gruesome (I’m a writer who, up until a few weeks ago, was researching serial killers. Leave me alone, okay? LOL.), but it is merely a reference for people who’ve known me my entire career, or at the very least, a good enough chunk of it, and know what to expect from me.
It seems like only yesterday when I was first given the idea to write something immensely simple. After that, it was as if I’d been plugged in to something unique and special, and I certainly was. Back then, I didn’t know what it was precisely, or where it would lead, but the path less traveled has been both good, and not so good, to me.
A lot of people ask themselves “When do I get to call myself a writer?” or “When am I officially a writer?” First and foremost; there are many different types of writers. Some people write music, poetry, movie scripts. Some write books, plays, or simply share their thoughts in a creative way. When you do it and can’t stop doing it because you are driven by a genuine need to share your thoughts and acquire feedback, good or bad, then you, my friend, are a writer.
Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s important not to twist things; plenty of people “write” and aren’t true writers. It’s a fact. Many are published authors who I will not call out by name, but nevertheless, they’ve hit a lucky strike at the end of a rainbow because there is zero talent to what they’re doing. It’s published gibberish that would make any true writer cringe. I spend more days cringing when work is submitted to me for editing than I do enjoying the work of another writer. Sad, but true. Sometimes, no matter how strongly you guide someone, they simply cannot be a gifted storyteller. There’s no shame in that. I believe it is inherently within a person, or not. It is not something I will ever feel is taught.
Some people come at you, as a “writer”, from a different angle. Satire, humor, playfulness, honesty, anger. The list is never-ending. Choose an emotion and/or a genre and I assure you; someone, somewhere, is writing about it.
I’m told we all have our “gifts”, our niche, in life, and that it is through exploration and exploration alone that we stumble upon said gifts. But there are many people who are lucky; achieving a measure of success through connections, as opposed to genuine talent. Then there are those who are born with immense gifts they’re simply waiting to share with the world, gifts they are, too often, not aware of.
If my gift with the written and spoken word had not been encouraged, supported, applauded, then I might be doing something boring at this very moment; something I loathe with every fiber of my being.
I know far too many people who’ve been in the same job for twenty, thirty, or forty years and absolutely HATE what they do. I have my moments. I’ve never hesitated to discuss them openly and honestly, but my gift? No, I don’t regret it; not any of them.
I’ve spent the majority of my life being put down, shunned, laughed at, and/or insulted for being creatively talented, as opposed to a “follow the rules” type. I would rather live an authentic life, as opposed to one chosen for me by others. I would rather pick and choose my wealth of knowledge, as opposed to doing what is “expected”. That is precisely how one masters the art of being gifted with a talent.
I speak the way I write. I live the way I write. It’s one of the reasons people like and respect me. It’s one of the reasons I get feedback that doesn’t require anyone kissing my ass telling me how great I am. I don’t walk around trying to be anything I am not. In turn, I feel it helps the words be more clear for others. Because it’s honest; it’s easy to relate. I’ve had many people tell me when they could not relate to something I wrote or said, but they still respected the hell out of me for putting my thoughts out into the universe so boldly. I never looked at it the way they did, not until receiving that level of feedback. I was simply writing, and they were reading with their senses fully engaged. I call that mutual respect.
Several years ago I started shutting down certain aspects of myself that I was told were “wrong” or “needed work”. It turns out the people whispering lies in my ears were wrong. Very wrong. The only time I need to work on something is when I choose to work on it, and only then. I am fully entitled to my feelings, thoughts, unique point of view, and even more entitled to live my truth. It is more important to me to tell the true stories than it is for me to pretend.
Whispering lies to someone is a form of manipulative abuse. It’s a way of telling someone they’re not good enough in YOUR eyes, usually because YOU don’t like certain attributes they possess. Often because it makes you uncomfortable, or because you’re jealous you don’t possess the same level of strength. I’ve had people tell me they could NEVER be the kind of friend I am to others, and then turn around and tell me my friends wouldn’t love me if they had to live with me. That came from a former best friend, and it came from a place of jealousy because she couldn’t even be a solid best friend to ONE person, leave alone multiple people. She did not understand how crucial being a good friend is to the core of who I am, and so, a friendship I thought would always be present is a friendship no longer. Her choice. Her immense loss.
Most people don’t think I’m funny, which is perfectly okay. My friends and my brother find me HILARIOUS, and that’s because they get me. I don’t care if other people lack the ability to grasp my humor, because those that do are invaluable to me. Criticizing my sense of humor is only going to make me laugh at you, it isn’t going to poison my mind against my wacky, twisted humor. I have to live with me. I have to look in the mirror and be able to face that person day in and day out.
I wasn’t raised to worry about being liked or loved by others. I’m secure enough in myself to not need the approval of everyone around me. Sure, at least once a day it would be nice to not be insulted or told I’m wrong, or be accused of things I’ve never even thought of, leave alone committed, but that’s not MY issue and I’m not going to carry it with me any longer. I do, however, have to be true to myself.
So, Lethal Poison is back in business. This Scorpion may glow, but she’s not afraid to sting, either. You decide which side you’d like to be on. I’ll keep speaking the truth.
Vi veri universum vivus vic~ “By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe.”
copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
I am available for editing and proofing jobs from now until June for those who participated in NaNoWriMo and are looking for someone skilled to help push them to be better writers. Submit inquiries in the comments.
The majority of my closest friends have been in my life for longer than most marriages last. We’re talking twenty years, on average, for each of my best friends. One, now officially former, best friend has spent the past six and a half years ignoring me. There was no disagreement between us, we’ve never had a legitimate fight. Absolutely nothing occurred to warrant her going radio silent. This, however, is her behavior whenever a new man enters her life. It’s utterly baffling, and such an immense turn-off that she truly believes she can come and go in the friendship as she pleases. I’m a person; not a revolving door at a hotel or airport! It’s unacceptable behavior. So, I’m going to write my feelings out of my system today. I’ve never blatantly outed a friend in such a manner, but it’s time to light a Yarhzeit candle to the friendship. For now it is time to remember, and move on.
Here’s a fact about me: When I’m done, I’m truly DONE. I find it sad that after all this time, she doesn’t know me well enough to know that I will cut her out of my life permanently. She doesn’t seem to realize that I will exterminate her like a fucking termite. She’s gotten far too comfortable in the friendship, and has forgotten what loyalty and true friendship are, and for that, there’s simply no forgiveness left in me. From here on out, I will refer to this person as Two-Face.
Two-Face and I became instant best friends from almost the first encounter. We said the same things, thought a lot of the same things, had a similar sense of humor, liked nearly all of the same things, and she stood up to people who challenged my role in her life many times. We were thick as thieves; always laughing hysterically for hours on end. She called me her sister, often saying I was closer to her in life than her own sister could ever be. It certainly seemed that way, because her sister isn’t anywhere near as good to her as I was from day one, but apparently she forgives her sister damn near anything and has an extremely short fucking memory. I’m more like an elephant. I might forget that I left tea in the kitchen for two hours, allowing it to brew too long and go bitter, but I do not forget the long-term. In fact, it’s all so sharp and clear, it’s eerie.
For me, referring to any friend as family is the highest compliment I can pay someone because I don’t consider my own relatives “true family” most of the time, except for those who actually stand by me, as opposed to doing so merely when it is convenient for them. I have family that will call me family when they please, as opposed to daily. That doesn’t fly with me, which is precisely why none of those people are my true family. I share bloodlines with them, but beyond that? Nothing. I would not give them a bodily organ if they needed it and I was the only match on the planet; I’d give it to the stranger whose family needed them instead. Through time, they’ve shown me how little they value me, so why should I hold them in high regard?
It’s important to be careful how you treat your friends. Friendship is a delicate thing. It can wax and wane like the moon, but it can also grow stronger daily. My best friends, those who’ve never left, seem to know me better than she does. I often thought she & I were closer, not just logistically speaking, but because we shared such a daily chunk of each other’s lives that the others often miss out on. I was wrong.
I have never dropped a friend for a man, or for another relationship. Not ever. I might be happier, perhaps a lot more playful and silly, but my friends play a significant role in my life. I do not exclude them simply because I am in a relationship. I don’t ditch them for months or years at a time, as if they are toys to be placed in a drawer and taken out when I choose. I find that disrespectful, and incredibly unhealthy. I am at my healthiest when I have my girls to turn to no matter what, because I’m genuinely a Girl’s Girl to the core. Women supporting other women, in good and bad times, is a remarkable thing. It is something I respect wholeheartedly. Don’t get me wrong; I will tell someone they’re wrong when they’re wrong, regardless of gender. I have absolutely no qualms about letting people know I have boundaries and human emotions, but I’d never intentionally hurt a friend. If you do something once and you ask for forgiveness; it’s a mistake. We all make mistakes, no one is perfect. If you repeatedly do something ugly; it’s a pattern and a choice. I do not have to accept choices that are continuously hurtful. I have enough issues; I don’t need my friends to emotionally cut me to pieces, nor will I allow it.
Two-Faced, now on marriage number three (Which, at the point, means you shouldn’t even bother. Unless you have children together, are planning on having children, or it’s for insurance purposes, that piece of paper is clearly ridiculous. That’s my OPINION, but I also know her so well that I know the second the relationship crumbles, she will be back at my feet, begging for forgiveness. Her absence will be blamed on HIM, not on HER.), was married when we first became friends. Her husband was utterly lovely…and she treated him like shit. My first impression was that it showed strength (No, I don’t think it’s okay to treat your partner like shit. I did not see it for what it was initially.), but over time I realized they never should have gotten married, that they only did so out of family pressure. They didn’t want the same things. They grew apart. When she called to tell me they were divorcing, I was heartbroken for her, and very protective. They stayed together for a period of time to get their finances in order, and parted ways amicably. They didn’t have any children, so it was a clean break. It was harder for their families than it was for them, because her family loved him and his family loved her. I’ll give her one thing; she’s great at fooling people.
She moved to another city and immediately started dating. He was re-married to someone else quickly after they were divorced, and was expecting his first child. She’d disappear for short periods of time between boyfriends. It was utterly obnoxious, and I’d never seen this side of her before. I started filtering myself in regard to my own relationships because I was somehow able to manage more than one person in my life at a time, never making excuses. I could keep my friends, be a part of my family, AND keep a guy in my life, without issue. Why was this such a problem for her?! In fairness, I’d soon discover it was a problem for a lot of women, and to this day, I will NEVER be able to wrap my mind around that. Relationships come and go, they’re not etched in stone, but friends should be forever. Where are you in life without at least one true friend?
She came to visit me at one point and was an absolute bitch for roughly 85% of the visit. Perhaps I should be ranking that at a higher percentage. I had the hardest time not knocking her teeth out, because I’d be appalled if I ever behaved that way toward a friend, especially in their home, and worse, several times in front of their family. Nothing was good enough for her, but in actuality I know that she was acting out, which is sad because by doing so, she ruined much of the time we spent together. When a major snowstorm hit the day before she was supposed to leave, resulting in approximately a foot and a half of snow, you would have thought I’d caused it by her behavior and attitude towards me. I had paid for her plane ticket and treated her like family; and in turn, soon after the visit, she didn’t speak to me for almost a year. I was utterly THRILLED when I dropped her off at the airport. Her behavior was SO awful that I honestly didn’t care if I ever saw her again. After 9/11, she e-mailed me to make sure that my family & I were safe. Our friendship resumed at that point, she seemed genuinely remorseful. “It’ll never happen again, Lisa. I honestly don’t know how I survive without you.” Whatever.
Maybe six months after flying out to visit her, she stopped speaking to me once again. I called her at work one day, after she’d been ignoring me for weeks, because my mother was in the hospital and I didn’t think she was going to live. I was devastated and needed my best friend to talk to me down off a ledge. She actually got on the phone and told me “I have problems of my own, I don’t have time for yours!” and hung up on me. In hindsight, I NEVER should have allowed her back into my life after that move. I should have ripped her to shreds, but I didn’t. My mistake, because that won’t ever happen again.
Maybe the following year I got a letter explaining that she’d hit a rough patch soon after I left, and decided to move back home to be closer to her family, and again, the friendship resumed with her, once again, pleading for forgiveness. “It’ll never happen again, Lisa. I swear.”
But it did.She never truly apologized for anything, not once.
She met husband number two, who was moved in very quickly (She should get U-Haul discounts on how quickly she moves men into and out of her life. I’ve never seen anything like it. Why can’t you just date like a normal person?!), and this guy hated me. He didn’t want her talking to me, and he didn’t want me visiting. She claims he made her choose between us, and we’d lose three years of friendship to a marriage where I am almost certain of his verbal abuse, but even more certain that the abused became the abuser. I feel she’s always had that in her; and I am sure that is why her first husband moved on so quickly to someone who was so drastically different in every way. Poor guy dodged one hell of a bullet! 😦
Her relationships are what they are. It’s her searching for love in all of the wrong places, because, despite being eternally selfish to her core, she does not have the capacity to truly love anyone, not even herself. She puts on a good show though, an Academy Award worthy performance, but it’s all incredibly fake. She is, in essence, the Phantom of The Opera in his mask. So filled with self-doubt and internal torment, the mask is a shield to keep people at bay, to hold everyone at arm’s length, until it suits her to get closer. She’d openly deny this, because she is so blinded, she cannot clearly see herself. I find it sad.
At her best, she believes she’s a decent person and wants to be better and grow, but she always gets in her own way. I’ve been friends with her long enough to see the good, the bad, and the ugly, so I am certain her relationship with me was borne out of needing someone stronger in her life to be friends with, because she has no other true friends who’ve seen it all with her. She has people she works with who only ever see the mask, but I’ve seen the pain. I’ve seen the roots, and I understand them, but I do not accept the fact that while she believes she’s “grown”, she’s truly still at square one. Other people who’ve gotten close have crossed boundaries and felt her wrath. There’s a reason I’m referring to her as Two-Face. It disturbs me that she can have two completely different sides to her and not own it. I know I have both darkness and light within me, and I am very open about that, but I am NOT two-faced. I am the same person at all times. I will always apologize if I’m brusque or bitchy without cause. Always. Sometimes I don’t hear how I sounded until 1-3 days later, but I’d rather apologize and own it than pretend to be something, or someone, I’m not. She thinks she’s the same way, but she most definitely is not.
Several years ago, I wrote her a letter and let her know precisely how I felt about the friendship and what she’d done/was doing to it. It took me almost a year to write it without being vicious, so even now, I’m trying to not be batshit crazy over how I’ve been treated. I laid it all out for her, and told her that this was unacceptable behavior, and that I knew for a fact she’d never allow me to treat her this way, so why was it acceptable for her to treat me so horribly? I even said we’ve never fought or argued, and that neither of us had done anything unforgivable (up to that point). I said it was all about communicating openly and honestly with each other, which we’d always done. I told her if she wanted out of the friendship, she need only say so.
However, here I sit six and a half years later and I find, I’m the one who wants out. I’m DONE. I was never anything but an amazing friend to her; loyal, devoted, present, caring, and generous. I loaned her money when she went through a couple of horrible years and had trouble making ends meet. I wanted to help her and keep her safe during that time because her family was refusing to do so (most especially, her sister, who is apparently a saint now.). I didn’t expect to be paid back, but when I think about the fact that it’s somewhere between $10,000-$15,000 owed, I do find myself wanting that money back. She always promised it would be paid back because it was a LOAN and not a gift. There’s a difference in the phrasing. I would already have sued her for it, if the state she resides in allowed people to be sued for small claims. It doesn’t, and I think we can all safely agree that the number is definitely NOT a “small claim”. I would even accept installment payments at this point. Unlike running out on a credit card; I am a human-being and I deserve to be paid back. I don’t care how you treat a billion dollar business, but I DO care how you treat me, the loyal friend who has stood by you when others, including your own family, have walked away or stepped back.
We were sisters, and I was always there for her no matter what. She didn’t just unravel the sisterhood, she broke it. She continued to hammer away at it until I said “Enough!” When I wrote that letter, I let her know it wasn’t an ultimatum, but that I wasn’t going to hold on to how I felt and allow it to continue to hurt me. She e-mailed me a month later and said she’d read the letter multiple times and would e-mail me in a few weeks after she thought things over. I never heard from her again. Knowing her; she lost the letter in her many moves since receiving it, and didn’t have the guts to get back in contact with me and face the issue. She can’t say she doesn’t have my e-mail address because I’ve had the same primary e-mail address for over ten years. Her cowardly behavior is another strike against her. You don’t let things slide and not apologize. It once took me eight years to apologize to a friend for potentially hurting her, but I apologized, and the apology was accepted. The friendship did not resume because, much like Two-Face, this person could not maintain a marriage, a family life, and a best friend. Apparently it requires a really high I.Q., multiple doctorates, and/or maybe some special gift I’m unaware of. I do NOT understand it, and I’m done trying to.
I hold many titles with ease, and Grace. Daughter, Granddaughter, Niece, Sister, Best Friend, Friend, Cousin, Writer, Editor. I hope to add other titles to that list, and I’m certain I left a few out because I’m focused on what I have to say, but my point is, I do maintain each title. I am still my parent’s only daughter and my Grandparent’s only Granddaughter, even in their physical absences. Two of my Grandparents have a second Granddaughter, and for that I apologize to them because she’s an embarrassment on every level as a human-being. I am my Aunt’s only niece and my brother’s only sister. I’m a best friend and friend AT ALL TIMES, not when it is convenient to be so. I try to be there for my cousins because I choose to have relationships with them, even when they’re not ideal relationships, even when the other person is difficult and makes me sorry I bother. I make an EFFORT. I’m imperfect, and in that imperfection, I am unique and solid.
When I think about Two-Face I am reminded of good times, of laughter, of travels, of so many hilarious moments and shared thoughts and secrets. I will take her secrets to the grave, but I will not allow her to harm me any further. She is the only person who, in the role of a friend, managed to turn something unbreakable into something broken. Her deep desire for self-destruction isn’t going to take me down with her. She is sitting somewhere now, possibly believing that she ended the friendship on her terms or that the revolving door with remain revolving, perhaps not even giving it a second thought. Ultimately, I am the one cutting her off and out. Permanently. I am not going to be vicious or vengeful. I am not going to allow myself to feel the hurt, anger, or utter betrayal a second longer than I already have. This, however, will take time; for I’m so angry as I write this, I’m shaking.
I am not going to cut myself off from who I am as a person, and what I have to offer others. I am going to continue being myself. I will continue to be intuitive and mindful of new people. I won’t allow anyone in my life when there are red flags of warning. I’m not going to stop being a loyal, damn fine friend to people. I am not going to allow this to turn me into a bitch, or allow myself to think that I deserve to be treated like that. I know better.
Friendships aren’t gifted to us so that we may irrevocably damage and break them. They are gifted to us in order to support us through thick and thin, and they are indeed a gift because true friendship is so unbelievably rare. I realize I am a rarity in how I handle my relationships with others. No matter how bad my life may be, and believe me when I say that it isn’t easy, I’d prefer to continue being the kind of friend I’ve always been to people.
She may have hurt me, but she did not break me. She did not win a damn fucking thing. When all is said and done, she will be as alone as she was when she came into my life; a broken child in need of a place where she belonged. I gave her that, and I never judged. I’m still not judging, but I am saying “No more.” I’m placing a wall made of concrete and steel between her and I from here on in. She can get through electronically, providing I deign to open an e-mail from her, but she cannot reach my heart or soul ever again.
There’s only so much damage I’ll allow. Breaking the bonds of sisterhood is on the list of “ultimate betrayals” for any female friend. She was given the choice to repair the damage, and instead, she chose something else instead of realizing she could have both. She chose selfishness. I am not selfish. In fact, on many levels we are polar opposites. Perhaps that is why our friendship was so incredibly close and was then twisted into something ugly by her. She doesn’t know that there’s no going back, that my ability to accept is gone. I feel sorry for her. She always comes back, but this time, she has no idea who the other person is that she’ll be faced with. I’ve changed for the better. Once I cut you off, there’s nothing you can say or do to get back in. Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice and you’d better find another planet to reside on.
Interestingly enough, the last time I was this done with a person; it was a man. He’s in town this weekend and all I can think is “Motherfucker, don’t you DARE darken my door.” That I’d put them both into the same category today is interesting, because that’s how she & I became friends.
Never Again. Done means done. Friendship is an ultimate strength, NOT a weakness. Other people have stepped up in your absence and replaced you; something I once thought would be unheard of. Stick that in your bitch pipe and smoke it.
May life provide you with precisely what and who you deserve. I am off to light a candle and say my goodbyes. If you get in touch, expect a fucking bill.
copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
I wish I had a dose of wisdom to bestow upon you today, but I don’t. I wish I had something to give that somehow made even just one person’s day brighter or easier, but I’ve got nothing. I am all out of poignancy at the moment. 😦 The thought is disheartening, to say the least.
I had an amazing character idea come to me in the shower the other day. Normally I would have immediately taken notes and elaborate on that idea, but I’ve decided to let it simmer inside my head. My fictional characters are loosely based off of people in my life. Some, not all. Many are an amalgamation of many people rolled into one. If a person is deeply entrenched in my life, they’re probably not safe showing off all of their character flaws in front of me. There’s this awesome mug I want and it says “Piss Me Off: Pay The Consequences”. As a writer, I definitely get my best revenge in print. Nine times out of ten, no one even knows what I am talking about, and that just goes to show you how unaware they are. Me? I’m self-aware and I’m glad for that because if someone were, on the off-chance, to write about me, they’re not smart enough or subtle enough for me to miss it. Reading between the lines is a special gift.
Call me crazy, but I don’t feel the need to make a laundry list of “2016 Writer’s Goals”. I’ve seen about a thousand of them on Twitter and they almost all say the same shit, ad nauseam. This year, I enter my 29th year as a writer. Far too many newbies discredit experience, mostly because they don’t have any to speak of. There is much to be said for the experienced writer who is comfortable in his or her own skin and mind.
The handful of times I have doubted aspects of my fictional work, a little voice would pop into my head and say “Pssh! You’ve written SO much. You’re attentive to the point of it being creepy. You’ve GOT THIS!” That is experience whispering in your ear; much like the angel/devil on each shoulder that some people like to speak of. My inner voice doesn’t lie, but people do, so I don’t put a lot of stock into a handful of people “loving it”. I’ve learned that a lot of people are scared to challenge me when it comes to my work or my words (and sadly, in my life in general), and so they will agree with me as opposed to saying “I didn’t really like or understand this part, can you elaborate?” I’m not SO bad that people have to fear asking a question or disagreeing with me, but apparently I am intimidating and intense, though my closest friends only see this on occasion, it is not a daily occurrence.
Finding people who will challenge you, and not agree with every single thing you say, is crucial for any writer (or artistic creator). The few friends I have that do write are relieved that I don’t sugarcoat things. They know they can present their work to me and get an unbiased, honest thought process. They know I will push them to produce their best work. Honesty is a foundation of greatness, especially for the truly creative soul. I’d rather someone speak the truth as opposed to be fake with me, and this expands to all aspects of my life. I’m confident enough in my talents, but if I trust you enough to share my work ahead of publication, it’s okay not to like something. I will not bash you with a hockey stick for being real. I’m tough, but I’m not THAT bad. 😉
I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that it is important as a writer to take stock of your health. You can spend 16-20 hours a day in front of the computer, and while that might get you a completed manuscript or a ton of smaller completed projects, it can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. I know because mine required a LOT of rest and slowing down in order to go into “remission”. To this day, I still experience some pain in my hands and wrists and actual weakness in both hands when I overdo it, but thankfully it’s not daily. Don’t take your hands for granted; you only get two, if you’re lucky.
Posture is everything. Don’t slouch at the computer. If you feel your shoulders begin to touch your ears, you’re stressed and you’ve been sitting there way too long. It is time to take a break, straighten your neck/back. get some stretching in, and take a walk. You will already find that staring at the screen isn’t helpful, or productive. Magical words will not flow out of your fingertips. Step away and stop touching your face when you’re doing the slouch of exasperation in front of the computer. Sometimes it’s a good idea to pick up a notebook and a pen and make notes for a while, it often leads to a better period of writing because it helps spark creativity. I have always found that if I jot down 1-5 pages of notes, ideas, or dialogue, it will later result in roughly 15-30, or more, pages of high quality work that I am proud of. I type more than I write by hand, so when I’m filling up notebooks, you know I’ve got a dozen tricks up my sleeve.
I’d rather write 300 pages of my best work, than 600 pages that aren’t cohesive in the story-telling. I have to be able to read it from start to finish and say “Wow! This is really good! Who wrote this?” I have to be able to get lost in it. I have to be able to impress myself; no one else. I am not the first writer to exist and I am certainly not going to be the last, but I do have to be a captive audience.
Okay, so apparently I DID have something to offer today. I’ll celebrate that fact later. 😛
Carry on everyone, and unleash some genuine creativity this weekend.
copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Earlier this year, I accepted a new client who had never been edited before. From the start, there were problems. She couldn’t follow the payment plan, which was bi-weekly. I gave her multiple opportunities to “get it right” before she did, but I didn’t start working until she paid in full. Call me crazy, but I wasn’t about to lose money over a person who wasn’t serious and who thought everything was funny. “Oops, I’ll have to pay you in two weeks. I put the money on the wrong prepaid card. Sorry.” I’d get these messages for weeks before I said “You have to pay by this date or I’m not taking the job.”
Her “manuscript”, and I use the term so loosely, rope should be involved, was a fucking MESS. I don’t exaggerate about the written word, ever. Mess, disaster, and “manuscript from hell” are words I’d use, and did, to describe the torment of having to work for this demanding, rude, insensitive, know-it-all who’d never been edited and is going to tell me, after 20 years of experience, how long a “dirty manuscript” on a first edit should take. I know people who have taken five years to write a book they were proud of. When it was edited a year after completion, so as to be thorough, at least they knew it wasn’t crap.
I’ve given her weekly updates, sometimes bi-weekly. I’ve done everything to be highly communicative, receiving responses like “Okie”, because apparently that’s how she spells “Okay”. Did you just empathize with me? Communicating with this person was like talking to a crash test dummy.
When I contacted her this morning to let her know that I’m moving and would complete her manuscript once I was settled in to my new place of residence, she claimed she’d given me two different deadlines that never existed. I know they didn’t exist because I never committed to a deadline, and she never specified one in the contract, or in conversation. It was 100% never discussed. I have a very sharp memory and yes, she bitched once, but I flat-out explained how much work was involved in her manuscript, and how time-consuming it was as it is not my full-time job.
Today she decided she’d prefer to part ways and “go a different road”. I returned the “dirty manuscript” with all of my notes and for the first time in 20 years, allowed myself to say “Good riddance.” I was the epitome of polite and respectful, but her demands during one of the worst years of my life and her deciding to “part ways” is a blessing. If I told you how much I got paid for this edit, you’d cry. Never again will I allow myself to be demeaned or disrespected by someone who thinks they’re the next Stephen King.
I had a moment where I felt like a failure. I have NEVER, not once, returned incomplete work to someone, but when a person is completely unwilling to work with you, to read their work before submitting it, etc., then I don’t feel it’s my responsibility, once they get vile, to do more than say “Here you go. Good luck.” Clearly she has NO idea how the industry works, what is and is not marketable, and that without a team behind me, yes, editing takes time. She said she wrote this manuscript in a few months and that “everyone who read it loved it”. It was barely a first draft, leave alone a fourth re-write. I can tell when someone is half-assing something. Even if they’re a New York Times Bestselling Author, I can tell when something isn’t properly thought out before submission.
So from here on in, I am only accepting proofreading, beta reads, and critiques. My writing focus now returns to my novels, which are quality. My creative focus will move to my career change because while I will always be a writer, I need more to keep me going. I need something daily that makes me feel like I have purpose.
A word of advice: Editors aren’t your punching bag and they don’t deserve to be shit on. If your editor is having a bad year, it’s okay to suggest moving on so that they can focus on their own life during a crisis, but it’s not okay to be a bitch to them. Treat people the way you’d want to be treated if the roles were reversed. Be respectful. Even more, if you’re barely paying them, you have no right to bitch about time unless you split everything up into chapters and allow them to work and submit chapters back to you as they complete them, because that’s when things can work in a much smoother fashion.
I highly recommend splitting your files up into chunks, perhaps a few chapters at a time, that way you’re communicating properly with the person who will be tending to your “baby”. Also, ask them to do a read-through before they edit, that way they can give you a fair price and an estimated time of delivery. Don’t freak out if the book that took you years to write takes nine months, or longer, to edit. I do a proofread, edit, fact-check, and then I double-check the work, so yes, it’s time-consuming.
The person you’re hiring is a flake only if you never see any results and never hear from them again, but a person who communicates with you regularly is being honest.
If my editor was having a bad year, I would never show them such disrespect. Shit happens, and it’s not the other person’s fault. If you want to hire a trained monkey who will kiss your ass, perhaps you should check out your local zoo.
I’ve never been so happy to delete someone’s work in my entire life. That probably sounds horrible, but at the end of the day, I shouldn’t want to remove my head off my shoulders because I was doing my job. No one should feel that way.
When someone tells me their story is SO good that it will be picked up traditionally and I’m editing it shaking my head “No, not in this lifetime.”, that means it will be 99 cents on Amazon Kindle. Granted, I’ve read some fantastic stuff for $5 or less on Kindle, but I’ve also been mortified by a lot of it.
Anyone who reads this sees my work regularly. They know I don’t eat bullshit politely with a knife and fork, and when you see my writing style, you can see that I edit it thoroughly. I’m human. I have the occasional typo, I’m quick-witted, educated, and willing to admit my faults.
Today, I say “C’est la vie.” Write what you want to write, but disrespecting an experienced, talented editor is unacceptable to me. One migraine less to think about. I’m moving on.
copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.