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Living with our choices

At writers’ conferences, I frequently meet people who waited until they retired to start writing. That really helps me get over the feeling that it’s taken forever to reach publication with my own book. But we all live with the results of our choices. Those older writers chose to focus on their careers. That’s a good choice.

After my book was finished, I chose to focus on building my freelance editing business instead of pitching agents and editors.

Before that, I had chosen, for a lot of years, to spend more time on work and family than on writing.

As I studied writing, I chose to focus more on sentence structure and grammar than on plotting.

All of these—except maybe the last—were valid choices. There’s no One Right Way to pursue writing or publication.

That last one, though, the grammar thing. That may have been a mistake. It made me a great copyeditor, but a lousy novelist. I wound up hiring a professional book doctor and spending several years learning how to plot. So I really recommend that writers focus on character and plot before grammar.

Then again, if I had done that, I wouldn’t be a freelance copyeditor. And I love being a copyeditor.

Our choices make us what we are, and each of us is different from the other. And that’s as it should be.

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About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

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