Love It or Leave It

One of the first rules I learned as a writer is when it comes time to submit your work–to a fellow writer, a writing group, and most especially an editor–make sure your copy is as clean as possible. Does formatting meet requirements? Is there word repetition? Are you prone to incomplete or run-on sentences? Is there consistency in the world you’ve created. (One of my favorite inconsistent moments occurs in the movie “The Mummy.” Why does Evelyn (wonderfully played by Rachel Weisz) need glasses when working in the museum library, but is never again seen wearing them?)

And dear God in Heaven: do not, under any circumstances, rely on spell-check to save your ass.

Have enough respect for the work (not to mention other writers, editors, readers, and–oh, yeah–yourself) to pick over the manuscript like you’re combing for nits. Endeavor to let nothing escape notice because, honestly? Things will. You’ll grow tired and your eyes will slide over mistakes. Errors will creep in despite your best intentions, but that’s no reason to be lazy in the first place.

To paraphrase a remark once made to me by writer Harlan Ellison: Perfection is probably forever beyond our grasp, but we do our best to get as close to it as we can.

That being said: Don’t slack off. Give your best effort every single time. Work to the best of your ability, and if your ability isn’t very good, then work to improve it. Love the craft. Honor it.

Or leave it.

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