For some time now I have thought that a wonderful name for a magazine column would be “The Wonderful Feeling Of…”. The continuation would be different for each column, things such as:
– Telling the Truth
– Saving Money
– Helping Another
– Meeting Old Friends
– Getting Things Done
– Saying a Prayer
These would be uplifting columns that explain how these things serve to enhance one’s life.
For this weekend, Getting Things Done is definitely the correct column. I did nothing on my own writing, but when I dropped into bed Sunday night I had the feeling that I had indeed accomplished much. Taking down the outside Christmas lights, undecorating and storing the Christmas tree, boxing minor Christmas decorations, sharing Sunday lunch with good friends, balancing the checkbook (done on Friday, I think), completing 2007 budget tracking (somewhat depressing) and setting up 2008 spreadsheet, taking 2-year old children’s church on Sunday–with 11 of the little darlings present and mostly accounted for, resting Sunday afternoon, and even getting to read a little. All of this was good stuff, and very fulfilling.
The main writing work I did was completing the critique of a chapter of another writer’s book. I met Jon at the HACWN conference in Kansas City in November, and we discovered our main works-in-progress were both in the same historical era, though in different parts of the Roman world. We have stayed in contact, and swapped chapters for reading, with the openess to critique. Well, I dug into the critique part. Saturday evening I pulled up the Word file, and using some handy macros I’ve written, did a lot of double strike-through and redlines, all with explanatory notes. Jon may not have bargained for this, but I did not cut down his story. I mainly showed him some places where a reader might have some problems with the setting, and where clarification was in order.
This was very fulfilling work. I think I learn more about my own writing when I critique others. I see things they do that I’m not looking for in my own work. The mere act of critiquing causes me to think about word use, grammar, clarity of descriptions, use of modifiers, consistency and immediacy of voice, etc. I find no better way to spend two or three hours improving my writing than to critique the work of another. I have one more critique to do, for another writer I met on line, then I’ll be ready to work on marketing Documenting America.