Substance

substance


Finding a nonfiction book that presents truly original content is not as easy as one would think.

I have edited many a self-help or business-related book that turned out to be mainly regurgitations of other people’s ideas.

Access to a world of knowledge on the internet makes it easy to find definitions, explanations, and opinions others may have about any subject under the sun. Things we read and hear stick in our minds and influence what we believe. Often they can become the foundation for a particular focus in our lives. 

When an individual has the desire to write a book about something that is important to them or important to others, at some point he or she will need to write down what they know on the subject. Of course, during the process, they will almost always discover that research into certain aspects is necessary before their book is complete.

However, what I take issue with is individuals who have nothing new to add to the subject or conversation they plan on writing a book about. I also take issue with book ‘authors’ who haven’t actually written any content of their own. Instead, they’ve collected material from previously published books, combined it together in a ‘new’ book, then proceeded to call it their own creation. Or, they’ve collected famous sayings that most everyone has already heard or read and that are readily available online to anyone who conducts a basic search then re-published them as ‘their’ book.

I’m sure most people are aware that students frequently plagiarize papers or simply copy and paste information they’ve found online and call it a paper. In the world of academia, this is widely discouraged, and students who are discovered will usually experience severe consequences.

But what about in the world of self-help, inspirational, and how-to books? Call me crazy, but I believe that authors should follow a few, basic, common-sense guidelines before self-publishing these types of books.

Questions I feel any nonfiction writer should ask themselves:

  1. How much of your content did you write from your own memory and experience?
  2. How much of your content has already been published, either in a book, video or movie?
  3. Are your ideas YOUR ideas, or someone else’s ideas that you just think are fantastic?
  4. If you’ve engaged in legitimate research (online or offline), have you gained the necessary permission(s) to publish content that already holds a copyright and isn’t in the public domain? This includes images as well.

Anyone who claims to be an expert or professional at something should be able to explain the topic or activity on their own, without having to scour the internet. Of course, people are all at different skill levels when it comes to communication, grammar or vocabulary, but the basic principles or processes involved in the topic at hand should already be present in their minds, ready to share.

I personally put this theory to the test when I wrote my series about preparation for self-publishing a book. I wanted to ensure that my content was original and based on my own knowledge and experience, because there are hundreds if not thousands of sites and books that talk about this subject to some degree.

First, I brainstormed a list of elements I thought were the most important for authors who were ready to publish their book to consider. Then, over a period of time, I wrote what I knew about each element, refining and rewriting many times. Everything I wrote came from my own mind, and I did not go online for ‘help’. When I couldn’t immediately come up with the exact words I was looking for, I would let it simmer for a few days; then I would simply write what I DID know, and only that.

The final two elements in my list of nine involved things that I don’t handle as part of my editing service. But I still thought they were important for authors to consider, so I included brief, accurate, related information that I’d found through research. I made it clear that my expertise only applied to the first seven elements. I have no desire to pretend to know something I don’t, especially in the professional arena.

It was super exciting for me to discover the amount of knowledge and experience related to book editing I’ve accumulated over the years. It really is true that the best way to find out if you know what you’re talking about is to try to explain it in depth to someone else. Many times in the past, I’ve outed myself by trying to explain something that I really didn’t understand and failed miserably. I’m sure everyone can relate to that feeling — problem is, some people aren’t willing to admit it.

Reading a book full of new ideas, insights or inspirations that help me in a way I’m unable to on my own is so rewarding! I must thank each and every author who has put in the time and effort to share them with the world. 

-ships

ships

Project quote:

“She thought she needed a relationship. What she actually needed was companionship — friendship not predicated on how she looks or on being pleasant or perfect.” (S. Chapman, Searching for Something More, 2018)

My thoughts:

Realizing this seems to be easy for certain women. But for the majority, I don’t think this is ever truly understood and accepted. Maybe I’m allowing my own experience to determine my judgement on that.

I’ve worked this out and know it to be true but applying this principle in my life is another story.

What is the difference between a relationship and companionship? Here’s my interpretation.

Relationship: A connection between two people. There are different kinds of relationships, of course. We have various kinds with the many people in our lives. The kind I’m talking about today is the romantic/intimate/physical kind. This kind of relationship may mean different things to different people, but most would agree that if the connection has graduated to the term “relationship”, as opposed to a fling, hookup, or flirtation, then there is some kind of commitment involved. But notice that these kinds of relationships often have different boundaries or expectations from one couple to the next. Personally, I picture romantic dates, making a home together and traveling together.

Companionship: Friendship. The state of being another person’s companion, or one that accompanies another. When I think of someone who is a companion, I picture someone who I am comfortable to be around. Someone who I could hang out with, be myself and do nothing. Or, hang out with and share deep, innermost thoughts. Or, someone to laugh and have fun with. I don’t picture a situation where I’m constantly worried about how I look or what I’m wearing. I picture acceptance and appreciation.

If a committed, intimate relationship can be combined with true companionship, then that to me defines the ultimate connection. 😊 

What do you think?


Editing projects for weeks ending April 29, 2018:
Nonfiction book, Business policies

Client countries:  US, UK


 

Splendor

splendor

Project quote:

“The Gran Teatre del Liceu was a splendid structure displaying rich textures and brilliant colors designed to attract and compliment the crisp linens and shimmering satins worn by its audience … Gilded walls were covered by delicate ornate carvings that framed the horseshoe curve of the room with a striking, shimmering texture.”   (G.A. Dazio, The Ornaments of Love, 2nd ed., 2018)

My  thoughts:

My two favorite scenes in this book took place at the opera and a ball. I’m not a huge opera fan, per se, although I do love Andrea Bocelli; attending one of his concerts is on my bucket list. I am a great fan of classical music, choral singing and many genres of dance. Along with Bocelli or a symphony, I’d also love to attend a Diavolo dance production.

The scene at the opera conjures up images of attending a concert at a majestic theater, wearing exquisite attire and listening to heavenly classical music performed by a live orchestra, accompanied by an angelic choir.

The scene at the ball transports me to a fanciful ballroom, where I find myself gliding effortlessly around to a waltz, in the arms of a debonair, masterful dancer. The décor is fabulous and twinkly, and the ladies’ gowns are voluminous and dreamy. The musicians are flawless, and the sonatas and concertos surround us. Time is suspended, and cares float away.

In school, I sang in choir, and played the violin. I played the piano for years, from the time I was four years old. I’m not terribly talented when it comes to dance. I have great rhythm, but I’m not the quickest on my feet and learning steps is a slower process for me. Music generally persuades me to sway and move around to the beat and the mood and sing or hum along.

Composers are truly gifted. For all the poetry and song lyrics that I’ve written, I have yet to manage to compose a single melody. And not for lack of trying in my younger years! How is it that I can appreciate music, music theory, art, math, and literature, but I can’t piece together a few original notes? I suppose we all have our talents and I am grateful for my share. And grateful for everyone else’s!


Editing projects for weeks ending March 25, 2018:
Fiction book, Fitness website video transcript, Book reviews, ICO Whitepaper 

Client countries:  US, Israel, China, Canada 


 

 

Wednesday’s Wafers XI

Wednesday’s Wafers: weekly series where I share some of my own recent writing.


Glorious
by Karolyn H

glorious

As each day passes
and time rolls merrily along
I understand more and more
why the greatest fulfillment in life
comes not from having the best of everything
or enjoying support and praise from admirers
or even from unlimited knowledge and opportunities.

It comes from the struggle
against your own fears
against the negativity of the world
against the obstacles that you might not even understand
against your past and recent failures
against bad habits and safe choices.

Our human condition is often scary
and painful, and hopeless.
But it is also beautiful
and silly and joyful.

The struggle validates the victory.
Tenacious persistence conquers doubt.
Failures teach humility and patience.

Reaching the goal, finding the treasure, discovering love;
there is nothing that compares to the satisfaction of
knowing that you made the hard choices that led you to this moment.
Knowing that the difficult, or traumatic circumstances you endured
were gloriously worth it.

Designing your life and crafting your character —
what an ambitious endeavor!
Who do you want to be?
How do you want to be?
Who are YOU?

and when I say “you”,

I’m really asking myself…


 

Strategic Recklessness

recklessness

Project quote:

“Obviously, being the good girl, the girl who did everything that was expected of her got her nowhere in life. It was only the people who were willing to take chances who ever got anywhere in life.” (B. Noles, title TBA, 2018)

My thoughts:

This type of thinking can veer off in two different directions, can’t it? On the one hand, I agree. Doing what is expected of you all the time means you live solely to please other people, even when it goes against your own desires or best interests. You have no real control over your own life. Not a recipe for happiness if you’re not getting something out of it as well. I also believe that taking chances is vital for success. How many stories of missed opportunities have we heard about or lived? The “what ifs”? If we always wait for the perfect time to make a change in our life, or meet someone, or travel, etc., that time may never arrive, and we’ll have yet another regret.

On the other hand!

I also believe in preparation, and calculated risk. I’m not a gambler, when it comes to money. I have learned to plan and research any major change or business decision. Online purchases as well, no matter how small. When it comes to personal relationships, through trial and error learning experiences, I have settled on a balance between trust and spontaneity, and cautious skepticism. The advice to listen to what people’s actions tell you is very accurate. Promises are easy. Following through with action requires effort and intention. Lies are easy. Most are eventually discovered.

Moral of the story?

Take risks, follow an opportunity, listen to your heart
—yet at the same time— 
listen to reason, don’t be a fool, educate yourself.

What do you think about this dilemma?


Editing projects for week ending February 25, 2017:
Fiction book, Inspirational Essay, Academic Research Article, Therapist Certification Statement
Client countries:  US, China


 

Weed Whacking

weed whacking


Just discovered an incomprehensible, impossibly long sentence in your manuscript?

Gasp!!

Kill the whole thing and call it a day?

Now just hold on a minute, wordsmith…give that red pen a rest.

First, ask what the GOAL of this monstrosity really is. Statement of fact? Call to action? Expression of feelings? List? Comparison? Physical description? …nonsense? (hopefully not)

Second, break it up into sections. Find a piece of it that you feel is solid, then ask yourself what you are trying to convey ABOUT that solid piece. Sometimes, simply cutting it in half is all you need to do. I’ve often found, however, that a writer may only have a vague idea of what they really desire to say.

Third, ask if it’s full of buzzwords and clichés. If so, how can you turn it into something original and thought provoking?

Going through this process can help weed out the unnecessary debris and leave the core blossom of the sentence standing in triumphant defiance. Your readers will thank you.