I am a writer who is also a doctor, interested in what helps us heal. I have used writing as a tool and resource to help me find out more about what I am thinking and feeling, to explore the difficulties and dilemmas in life, to live more curiously, compassionately and creatively, to communicate more effectively and to be more observant, reporting back on observations about the human condition and how we impact on each other and the earth. These are some of the benefits of regular creative practice, which I have found ways to pass on through the courses I run under the umbrella of the Life Righting Collective. My aim in the courses is to put you in touch with your own creative fire and to show you how to get into the 'download' part of the mind. The next course in Cape Town is from 2nd to 4th May. Go here to find out how to book.
This is the first time the Life Righting Collective has published stories, and every aspect of the process has brought up interesting questions. Editing someone else’s work can present dilemmas. We encourage creative expression and developing an original voice. As Emily Buchanan, the second editor for the hard copy anthology pointed out, editing is often a matter of opinion. The old school style of thinking that there is only one correct way of saying something went out with colonialism.
When writers are in full writing flight, and words tumble from their pens, they often come up with quirky and exciting phrases or juxtapositions of images. Authors who are not writing in their mother tongue are prone to using words in refreshing ways. In editing the stories for both the website and the hard copy anthology, we have taken care to stick to some basic principles: Is the story clear or confusing? Does the subject matter veer too widely off the point? Is there unnecessary repetition?
Editing too much can reduce the piece to something bland; editing too little might look as though the editors don’t know what they are doing.
We are checking with authors as we go. As Emily points out, this cross checking with the author that we have not interfered with meaning, or inserted our own ideas and voice, is part of the learning curve. While writing we develop our capacity for writing. When editing, we grow our ability to fine tune what we write so that our work can be more effective in the world.
Writing and editing are different functions of the brain. I have a notion that paying attention to each in turn helps to heal the traumatic ruptures that occur in our lives.
I think the voices that emerge in our published stories are true, vibrant, idiosyncratic and creative. Take a look on our website. The book is due out in May. I encourage you to read it.