The Year in Review: 2012


In the past twelve months, I have edited 46 academic books and works of fiction, drafted a book on racial profiling, co-authored a children’s book, and coached three new writers. Not bad, considering I also moved to the Southern Hemisphere and turned my life, literally, upside down.

My academic editing was for several well-known academic publishers, and I edited manuscripts for several repeat clients, helping them with books that are to be published in numerous countries. That’s the fun of having a world-wide clientele.

My academic editing included subjects as diverse as Christ among the messiahs, realpolitiks, DIY style in Indonesia, Muslim women’s memoirs from across the diaspora, healing of children after sexual abuse, independent film, love’s subtle magic, and workplace bullying in higher education. As I like to say, I’m getting a PhD in Everythingology, and the list of subjects I edited this year gives credence to that belief.

Aside from my academic editing, I also edited two textbooks (math and biology)…which is what most people assume “academic editing” means. Not so. They are two distinct endeavors.

I also worked with three new writers, who are writing a memoir of reincarnation, a series of theological tomes, and an urban novel. Again, extremely diverse subjects. I particularly enjoy working with new writers, helping them to discover their strengths, their voice, and the story they wish to tell.

I miss teaching fiction writing at UCSB Extension, but this is the next best thing. Truth be told, I might enjoy it more than teaching in a classroom, though I do miss the face-to-face interaction.

Simply put, I love my job. Here’s to a similarly challenging 2013, and unexpected growth and new avenues of endeavor.

Vile Villains Cancel Class

Archvillain Snidely Whiplash

Well, my Vile, Evil Villains class at UCSD Extension was scheduled to begin today, but it was canceled, due to a dearth of students. I was afraid it was too soon to offer it again, and this time as a five-week course (versus three-week last July). So, it’s been postponed until the Winter session. My next classes begin in July: writing memorable characters and overcoming writer’s block. In the fall, I will teach my Writing with the Senses class again. That was a big hit last year.

It’s too bad the Villain class was postponed. I’ve been developing some great new exercises for developing evil villains and the heroes who will oppose them. I got a lot of great insight from Christopher Booker’s tome “The Seven Basic Plots.” If you’re a writer, you have to get this book. It’s joined Sol Stein’s “On Writing” as one of my favorite resources.

But no effort is ever wasted, so I can use much of what I’ve been developing in my Character class.

Meanwhile, I continue with my Memoir Writing workshops every Wednesday. My current students are on their four series of workshops. Some great writing resulting, and, as to be expected, some much-needed therapy. Writing heals.

Hey, that’s a great idea for a new course! Think I’ll go pitch it right now!

Heroes and Villains

In May, I will be teaching my “Vile, Evil Villains” class again at UCSD Extension. I taught this class last summer for the first time and the course proved so successful that the students rallied to extend it from a three-week class to a five-week class.

The gist of the course is “What makes a hero a hero and a villain a villain?” It’s my belief that villainy follows Newton’s Third Law of Motion: for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. A truly evil villain must face off against a truly heroic hero. But both must be flawed, for therein lies the tension. Think how boring Superman would have been without the threat of Kryptonite. Or how evil Snidely Whiplash would be without his love for Pauline. These fundamental, inherent flaws of body or nature are what provide the looming uncertainty: success or failure?

Of course, then there’s the triangle of tension between the hero, the villain, and the Loved One. Oh, so much more to talk about. But we’ll rest here with the fatal flaws.