Tuesday, September 11, 2007


By Julie Wright

My tenth grade English teacher began the school year with this declaration, "Real writers write in pen, because they're good enough the first time; they don't need to erase."

I actually wrote the quote down and for several years chanted this mantra as my own.

This was the same English teacher who told me I'd never be published, so why I'm running about quoting the man is a mystery.

Several writing workshops and reliable school of hard knocks lessons later, I found that the teacher was wrong about both of us--erasers and me.

I did get published (sadly, he died by the time I had a book in hand; I didn't even get to gloat . . . sigh)

And real writers do erase.

The revision process is what keeps real writers from looking stupid in front of the general public when a book is released. It is where we fine tune, rethink, and make clear.

Gone are the days when editors mold young writer potential into publishable literature. If your manuscript needs too much work, regardless of the plot brilliance and the perfection of characterization, they will send you back your SASE with a form rejection.

Make sure to workshop your manuscript through people you trust. Make sure to be caught up on latest industry requirements for submission, Never turn in a first draft. Don't be so immovable (arrogant) in your writing that you aren't willing to make changes or listen to suggestions. And don't be afraid to "kill your darlings" as Steven King so succintly said.

Basically, the point of this post is: never listen to tenth grade English teachers who look like leprechauns, and keep those erasers handy.


Stephanie Humphreys said...

Boy, if there were no erasers, those late night writing sessions could prove to be awfully embarrassing.

Annette Lyon said...

That teacher was quite possibly the biggest idiot around. Drafting doesn't determine a good writer, revision does.

Julie Wright said...

I agree!!! What a punk, huh? And Stephanie, you are not kidding. I'd die of embarrassment if I didn't have an eraser in my holster.

Heather B. Moore said...

I'm glad you saw past your teacher's advice. Now I'm wondering if s/he was ever published ;)

melissa c said...

Well, said my dear. I thought that the man was an idiot as soon as you wrote what he said.

Great people, whether writers or not are able to admit they can improve.

This was a good post. Thank you!

Anna Maria Junus said...

Well I doubt that teacher ever got published.