An Incredible Amount of Red Ink

My manuscript is with an editor and it got me to thinking about the last time I’ve

really shared any of my writing. It must have been in school. I got a lot of the same feedback¬† along the line of”love your writing style and reading your papers, it’s just not a scientific/academic/technical tone; it’s more like reading a book.” I heard this several times over the years.

There was one professor in particular that was notorious for editing and a certain note he would leave while grading. Sometimes, his editing even happened outside of class. If he was in his editing mood and you sent him an email, you were likely to get it back with corrections to your grammar in red and then his reply typed out below. If something was really abysmal, whether it was something incorrect in a paper or a botched statistics assignment, he would simply write “ouch.” This became his infamous dreaded notation.

I thought of that, because while I was self-editing my manuscript (and using an incredible amount of red ink) I had a couple of typos or inconsistencies where I just thought “ouch.” It made me laugh and I was actually very happy self-editing and to send a manuscript to an editor for the first time. I expect there will be even more red than I can imagine when I get it back, but I’m all too excited to delve back into working on it when it’s time.

It was a neat feeling to read back over my writing and there were times I had to remind myself I was reading to edit and not just for fun. I used a tip I saw online and printed out the manuscript to see it in a different way. It used a good deal of ink and paper, and then I had to enter the edits in manually afterwards, but I thought it ended up being worth it. For me personally, it helped to catch errors I hadn’t seen on the computer.


After I completed as much as I could on my own, I sent it to an editor. That was totally new to me. I’ve turned in papers, critiques, research, and presentations, but I’ve never shared my fiction writing. I don’t have any kids yet (dog parent here), but it felt like what I’ve heard others describe on sending their kids to school for the first time. Holy moly anxiety. Is it ready? Did I prepare it enough? Will it be okay? Will I get a call halfway through the first day to take it back?

In grad school, that’s really when I started writing and it was just for myself. I worked at a non-profit and had night classes, which meant I was regularly pulling some really long days. Writing was an incredibly efficient way to decompress. After a long day, I’d open a word document, enjoy writing a story, or part of one, close it without saving (Ikr?!) and go to sleep.

But when it comes down to it, I’m beyond appreciative to have an editor look at the manuscript for The Architect’s Gallery and plan to look for betas after I rework it again. I shared with a buddy that I was nervous to send it over and was reminded that it’s to help me become a better writer; and as I’m trying to make my love for writing into stories that I can share with others, that’s what I really want.

Here are some pictures from my trip at the beginning of December to finish up self-editing. I mostly stayed in the cabin with the dogs, but had some time to get out for a drive or two and explore the town.

This is a story I’ve worked on for a long time now and I liked getting away to finish that round of edits. I’m looking forward to spring and summer in this part of the country so I can hike or camp with whatever draft I have with me at the time to work on. Also, going rafting this summer sounds like a lot of fun.

I’m interested, what are your editing go tos? Do you print it out, edit on the computer, barricade yourself in a room at home, take it to a coffee shop or the library?

Happy Screaming,

S.L. Ember

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S.L. Ember

Horror and dark fiction writer.

2 thoughts on “An Incredible Amount of Red Ink

  1. I also like to print out sections of story or the whole thing and edit. Sometimes it’s too soon and I use Stephen King’s “drawer method.” I leave the manuscript in a file cabinet drawer for at least a week, then go back to it. Sometimes I see a lot of “Ouches” but it’s well worth it! At least I don’t ship it off in that condition. I think that if you can find friends or readers you trust, by all means let them take a look!

    1. I think the drawer method sounds great! Some separation in time from when it was written can bring a fresh perspective with it.

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