In Ancient Greek legends, the Nymph Thetis married Peleus, king of the brave and skilled warriors, the Myrmidons. The two then had a son and named him Achilles. Prophesy stated that the man would become greater than his father. Thetis, desiring immortality for her son, dipped him in the river Styx. Unfortunately, the heel that she was holding him by, was not submerged, thereby leaving him with a vulnerability.
According to one telling of the story, during the Trojan War, Paris son of Priam King of Troy, killed Achilles by shooting him in the heel with an arrow. Had Paris shot him anywhere else, Achilles would have lived.
Such a small and innocuous part of the body was the downfall of such a heroic and larger than life man.
Unfortunately, there is something also, with writers, that when overlooked can cause the demise of many a writer.
This vulnerability is a lack of editing and polishing of ones work.
While I do agree that writers have a burden to police their own work, most do not realize, that the longer you look at your own words, the less you see them. It’s like having a huge mole on your face. The more you get used to it, the less you see it. But everyone else can still see it quite clearly. Think, Austin Powers in Goldmember.
Being an author comes with a responsibility not only to yourself, but the craft itself and the readers. The less time we take to edit, the more we are setting ourselves up for failure. Understanding that not everyone can afford to pay out hundreds of dollars for professional editing, we must remember that there is, as my Daddy says, “more than one way to skin a cat.”
As discussed last week in the blog “Getting Out of the Cabin”, one of the most important steps in writing is including other brains and eyes. If possible, joining a writing community, such as http://www.writing.com, where you can obtain unsolicited reviews from other aspiring and published authors is always a great way to go.
I did this with my soon to be published short story “Escape” and received amazing feedback. The gracious authors showed me inconsistencies, grammatical errors, and gave ideas for better wording. Not to mention, I received encouragement and kudos on my work.
I am now able to make a mental note to make sure I look for these things myself when I’m writing and editing other works on my own. This way, I am more responsible with my writing and will improve.
I will still allow others to edit my work. That will never change.
While allowing others to edit your work does entail the need for thick skin, it is definitely one of the most essential steps in producing a story of excellence.
Unlike Thetis, we are able to make sure that we limit vulnerabilities in our writing. Go ahead, dip all in and watch your writing not only improve, but truly become immortal.