Thursday, December 25, 2014

An Author’s Christmas Letter

Having last year’s production drop,
Procrastination and laziness nonstop,
I resolved to make this year better,
By trudging onward, letter after letter.

January first I vowed
To make my judgmental side proud,
And meet my daily word count,
Surpassing last year’s amount.

Then February came.
With no one to blame,
I have an excuse.
Something happened to my muse.

And that’s all I got.
I told you it’s naught;
My creativity was gone,
My patience not long.

But in March out burst 90 pages.
Though I struggled through these dark ages,
One in the Hole Issue Two
Came out without too much ado.

Theatre was a time suck.
I felt I was stuck.
I avowed to drop it.
But it’s not easy to quit.

One last play, I told myself.
No more commitments on my shelf.
And then something terrible occurred.
I met some jerk and fell in love.

Heartbreak destroyed me, I’ll admit.
My summer was spent in a deep black pit.
But I found some light in that tunnel.
For distraction, my goals were funneled.

Productivity returned and with ambition.
I turned 25, renewed in my mission.
Novel edited, short stories wrote,
I found control, became afloat.

November brought some new followers and friends.
My day-job closed, my employment ends.
New Years brings new possibilities
Which unfortunately means new responsibilities.

There are things I wish,
Things I know I won’t finish,
And things I fear,
But as for this past year…

All’s well that ends well.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2014

What to Do When Someone Questions Your Literary Choices

So, anecdotally, flipping someone off does not end a conversation as much as it exacerbates it. Most likely you will be considered the hostile agitator, especially if you are a writer not taking an “innocent” comment well.

When it comes to maintaining a confident demeanor, writers can often be put between a hard place and a rock. We all know what it is like to have someone question whether or not we really think we have what it takes, to suggest what we should really be writing, and to dig a fingernail right into our insecurity. But while the author is constantly questioned on every decision he makes, there also seems to be little in the way of his options without sounding like a colossal dick. Every explanation just offers more room for argument, trying to convey what’s important to you will often gets the return of, “That doesn’t matter.” When trying to answer something a tone of derision, writers will often feel themselves in a sticky spot.

What to do?

1) Evaluate the intention.

The appropriate response is very much determined by the speaker’s intention. In some cases, an offensive question is really just them trying to carry a conversation. And if the author just happens to be introverted, the speaker very well may be doing most of the hard work.

For small talk, people will take the little they know about you and try to form a question. It will probably not be that interesting, and if they don’t know that much about the topic, it’s likely to be the three-hundredth time you’ve heard it.

“Oh, I always wanted to write a book,” gets right under our skin. Like it was so easy. But if you sense that they’re speaking to fill the silence, sometimes it’s good to give them a break.

I can attest that when someone asks you, “So, what have you written?” it might be a competitive jibe. It also just might be a way for them to find out more about you.

While you only have a few seconds to decide, taking just a moment to give them the benefit of the doubt is often all you need to realize that they aren’t trying to be a condescending hole. If that’s the case, then you can answer their question confidently and thoroughly, which will allow them to come up with more detailed questions (versus continuing to question you.)

If you can’t tell why they’re asking, err on assuming the better of them. Even if they are egging you on, after you play stupid and act friendly, they either have to up the ante and be even more aggressive (making it more agreeable to outside viewers when you do eventually end up flipping them off) or, more likely, they’ll play along and act as though they weren’t being a jerk in the first place. (And then think you’re an unperceptive moron, but by this point, you were never going to get their blessing, so big deal.)

2) Don’t engage.

In a conversation, you don’t have to put any more effort into making them comfortable than they did you. Writers are often insecure about being a writer—“What gives me the right?”—and sometimes that makes us feel obligated to explain ourselves.

You don’t.

Explaining a decision validates a criticism. In certain situations, that’s fine. If it truly is constructive and an ensuing conversation can help the author understand the pros and cons of a choice, then having each person explain their view can be extremely helpful, even if they aren’t completely right. If, however, the criticism is more about someone else putting the writer down, the writer does not need to explain himself.

I work in highly competitive fields which, strangely enough, being competitive is ineffective and sometimes even counterproductive. While millions of people are trying to be writers, it is unlikely that the success of the person you’re speaking to will actually affect you. And yet, still we try to prove ourselves by belittling each other’s accomplishments.

Whenever you get the sense that someone is trying to prove that your choices are bad, or your experience doesn’t count (probably to build themselves up), the best solution is to answer them in the most succinct and literal manner possible, “literal” meaning exactly what they asked, not what they meant.

“Well, clearly this is a first draft.”


“Well, you haven’t finished it yet.”

“I have.”

“It’s your first book.”



“Why do you write science fiction?”

“I like it.”


“You sure you want to be an author. There’s no money in it you know.”

“I do know.”

And then stare at them, without saying a word, until they go away. No matter how long it takes.

When I’ve been in these situations (and I’ve been in them a lot) my succinct answers made my fellow conversationalist more and more flustered as we went on. By not feeling inclined to explain or prove myself or insult them, the power returned to me. They are under the obligation to keep adding details and to prove themselves right, not being fed any more information that they could argue or prove their point with. I don’t do anything that allows them to take offense and I don't allow them to get to me.

Of course, I was able to do this because I did have experience and could honestly give the “right” answer, but even if it had been my first novel, the answer, “Yep. It is,” would have still put the burden on her to keep carrying the conversation, and brevity lets her know just how I feel about the question.

Looking confident while someone is questioning your every action is difficult. Trying to prove yourself will often look like insecurity and give more fodder for criticism. By giving them little information and acting as though you don’t need to explain your actions often makes them seem reasonable and the person questioning them as the one who is being abnormal.

While the benefits of not engaging allow you to show you don’t find the question itself acceptable or necessary, maybe you don’t want to come off as annoyed. What then?

3) Make it a thoughtful conversation rather than an attack.

Whether or not a person is actually attacking you (or is aware that’s what they’re doing), if you feel attacked, there’s a reason. Maybe it’s you being too sensitive or maybe they really are just trying to bring you down. Sometimes it’s hard to say. But no matter the circumstance, many people want to bring the conversation to a positive light.

If they ask you to explain why you want to be an author, why you write in the genre you do, why your character did that “obviously ridiculous thing,” or just implied any of the above, sometimes the best way to handle the situation is to act as though the perceived slight does not exist and change topics.

“Why don’t you write contemporary fiction?” (Actual common question.)

A)     Instead of answering, ask a question that makes it about them: “Is that what you read?”
B)     Make it a bigger picture philosophy:  “I always find diversity in literature as important, so while I recognize contemporary fiction doesn’t alienate people as much as science fiction, it’s a niche that I enjoy and have no interest in disappearing.”
C)     Give an interesting anecdote: “A couple of years ago I was working on a play where I had a concept I loved, but no clear setting. I naturally made it about modern day America, and found I couldn’t get past page three. About a year later, I picked up the project again and picked out a more specific setting—one that I knew I would enjoy—and I wrote the whole thing in a couple of days. Turns out, contemporary fiction doesn’t interest me.”

So when someone asks why you want to be an author, tell them the story about when you first knew. When they inform you that it won’t make any money, ask them if that was a main factor in choosing their career. You can be as patronizing or as pleasant as you want. The important thing is to not give them room to suggest you are uncertain about that choice (even if you are).

4) Act like you really care about their opinion. (And try to really care.)

The best way to turn off hostility is to make that person feel respected. In the opposite vein of the above tactics, you may consider saying you aren’t sure about your choice and ask them their opinion, giving them the responsibility of making a “good” decision.

One of two things will happen: They’ll shut down, or they will go off, chattering endlessly. Either way, you’ve taken the responsibility to prove yourself off of your shoulders and put it back on theirs.

Some people have a lot to say when unsolicited, but then, the moment you ask them for their view, they refuse to give it. They’re good critics, but bad leaders. When criticizing, the responsibility is still on the creator, but when the limelight actually falls on the speaker, he can feel a lot of pressure to be right. That’s why everyone’s a critic and an aspiring author, rather than actually doing it. It’s easier to tell you why a choice is wrong than to make the right one.

The reason to use this method is because you actually aren’t sure about your decision, and you do want someone else’s insight. So if option number two occurs, then you’re getting exactly what you want. The trick is to just listen to them talk without putting your own two-cents in (which may encourage the hostility and competition to be revived.) Against my normal philosophy, it’s about making them do most of the talking, taking the information in, and then parsing it out later.

So, when they say, “He tells her he loves her and she just says nothing?” with that tone of derision we all love, just respond with, “What would you like to happen?” and they’ll either trail off about, “I don’t know, it’s your book…” or give you an in-depth analysis of their mind. Either way, win.

5) Passive-aggressively let them know why you hate that question.

I save this one for last because, while it is the most fun, it will make either make the speaker feel bad or get angry, so it should be your intent to do so. It should be saved for those who constantly barrage you with unsolicited criticism, and you merely want them to understand why it needs to stop without them defending themselves.

It goes like this:

“You should write romance novels. That’s where the real money is.”

“Ugh. People suggest that all the time. Don’t they realize they are insulting your personal tastes every time they ask you to write something you don’t write? I mean how closed minded can they be?”

Guaranteed they will never suggest that again. Also, that they may never talk to you again.

The real trick to confronting people’s derision is to assume you can’t change their mind. The less you try to do so, the more likely you will. Or at least, the less they’ll be willing to talk to you about it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Giveaway Winner and the Launch of Stories of the Wyrd.

The prize of the beautiful Edgar Allan Poe quilt goes to a woman by the name of Jessica. She has already been notified.

Wait. Come back.

I will be doing another giveaway of a similar prize next June or when I hit 5,000 likes on Facebook, whichever comes first. So if you’re interested in being kept updated, please bookmark this blog, follow it, like me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter. And I do take suggestions from loyal fans.

The second part of news, I’m happy to launch the first of many short stories, Stories of the Wyrd:

These episodic short stories follow siblings, Rasmus and Kaia Kondori, as they weave a thin line between their world and a supernatural void that borders it. Fighting hobgoblins, ghosts, vampires, and the things creeping in from the wilderness, their adventures range from dark horror to fairytale slapstick.

Sarcastic, dark, supernatural, and romantic, the stories have a wide variety in length and styles, perfect for a quick jaunt or a long, leisurely read.

These short stories have been a pet project of mine for the past year and a half. Many of the shorts, not yet featured on the website, convey a widespread spectrum of emotions and moods. They have allowed me to experiment and toy with styles and techniques, removing the stressors of the publishing world my novels always tend to have.

Kaia and Rasmus came from a novel which really wanted to be a television show, diving into only a small part of their lives.

I’ve been procrastinating to make them live, but decided, in the name of my 25th year of life, to stop the isolation.

They are meant to be fun, casual reads that always have the option of growing into more if the reader so chooses. I will be adding more stories as we go along, probably around every other week. But I don’t need more deadlines, and these works are supposed to be nothing but enjoyable, so it will be sporadic. Again, following me is the best way to be notified of updates.

Friday, December 12, 2014

How Expedited Criticism is an Impediment

“Nobody understands me.”

It’s a sentiment that I use sarcastically, but at certain times in my life, I mean it. Then I make a point to be more dramatic.

People often ask me why I speak so specifically, and laugh when I discuss things like I’m a persuasive essay, having a list of “concrete details,” i.e. examples, to prove my point. (A little ironic considering how much I braced against the formulaic methods of essay writing.) It’s not uncommon for me to reply to a question with, “The answer’s not fully formed yet,” or, “It’s all speculation. I let you know when I can prove something,” even for things like, “How’d you like the movie?”

I’m used to being misunderstood and have spent my life trying to phrase things in a way that will make my internal thoughts clear to an outsider. In my mind, I’m never wrong, I just didn’t express it correctly. And, that’s my philosophy on other people’s opinions too.

That all being said, I’ve become fairly successful at figuring out how to be convincing. It’s easier to gauge success when everyone outright insists you’re wrong. Whatever it is about my nature—I’m assuming the condescension that I don’t actually mean—people want me to be mistaken. I once tried to tell my boyfriend that a square was a rectangle even though a rectangle isn’t always a square, and he flat out called me a liar. Because of reactions like this, I’ve learned how to express my feelings in a way that will, eventually, draw other people around to my same conclusion.

This is mostly in terms of life and philosophy over writing. In fact, though I constantly am thinking about improved methods of conveying constructive criticism in a palatable and efficient way, I hadn’t really put two and two together and considered one of the reasons giving feedback on writing is so difficult. Then suddenly it occurred to me how I came to understand my writing and its main weaknesses, and the difficulty for us to help others to do the same.

Getting people to an organic understanding of your perception takes time, and constructive criticism is expedited.

I recently got asked by a Twitter follower to read his manuscript. I agreed, he immediately sent it, and then not ten minutes later had asked how far I had gotten. He admitted to being impatient and I didn’t blame him. Truth was, even if I had sat down and immediately started reading, I wasn’t about to give him feedback until I had read the whole thing (about 200 pages.) I believe in going big picture and backwards, so I needed the big picture first. When receiving feedback, the demand is for it to be as quick and thorough as possible. I blame the microwave.

The best way to “improve” somebody (whether that be behavior or writing-wise) is to take time. There are several steps involved. Convincing your loved one he/she demoralizes you or that his characters always sound like they’re lying can’t happen with just one blurt of blunt criticism. You can’t say, “I need you to stop being so damn condescending!” and expect it to take affect.

First step is to introduce the concept without a call to action or insistence they are wrong. Second step is to give time for the criticized to digest what is said. Third step is to reinforced the concept, adding information each time. Forth step is to wait for acceptance of the idea. Fifth step is to explain your perspective as fully as possible when they're ready to listen. Sixth step is to allow them to experiment in solutions without being critical.
The best way to initiate a change in someone is first by allowing immediate rejection.

To convince someone of anything, the idea must be introduced first. If you do this in a manner that makes the individual feel control, he’s more likely to move through the first stage of being convinced faster.

Constructive criticism does get easier with time. The main reason is because it stops being surprising.

Shock is the first stage of a first criticism. Denial is the second. They tend to go hand in hand. Shock is what makes it hurt, denial is what makes it more palatable. When the introducer of the concept does it in a way that retains power for the listener, the listener is less likely to feel out of control. When someone feels in control, they feel safer and are more likely to not need the denial stage as long.

How do you introduce a piece of constructive criticism without implying an immediate call to action? That’s just the problem. The expectation is to give a call of action. The writer wants to leave this feedback session with an immediate solution to his problem.

Considering the most beneficial sessions I’ve had, I would say that beginning authors should focus on having conversations with others about their writing, not feedback sessions. Having someone to just talk about their book, or even sit there and just listen, is the best way to ease into what he wants to change about his work. Instead of giving solutions and trying to make it easy to digest in one succinct moment, the critic is enabled to just talk, without an agenda, about the story as a whole. The author is able to respond, and no one is looking for a means to “improve” the work. This allows the writer to feel in control. When he is told “When Susie didn’t save the cat, I hated her,” he is still shocked, but he gets to decide if that’s a good or bad thing, he’s not being told by someone that he made a mistake and needs to change it. He’s more likely to be honest with himself and not be spiteful.

Trying to get all the criticism you need in one session is pointless. You need some time to take it it, you need some time to be hurt, you need some time to dissect, and you need time to figure out what you don’t understand.

I never expect anyone to believe me the first time I tell them anything. Most people’s reaction to new concepts is rejection. There’s a legitimate question of why haven’t I heard of this before? Or, in the case of writing, why haven’t I seen it?

It’s an important step in constructive criticism. If you are given feedback, you don’t need to identify the truth of it right then and there. You can give it time to make sense to you, or for it to come up again and receive more information.

Whenever you want someone to make any sort of change, give it to them gently, even vaguely, and don’t expect immediate change. For one thing, when anyone tries to force change as someone expressed it to them, it’s likely it will be mechanical, false, and often not really what the person meant.

We need time to get over the shock and accept the possibility of the idea without feeling trapped by the need to make an immediate decision.

Most individual pieces of criticism are useless on their own. It’s only after figuring out how they connect (which often requires more than one perspective, either gained by time or new people) that the truth of each comes out.

Remember to enter my giveaway!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe Quilt Giveaway!


To celebrate the launch of my serial short stories, on December 15, I will be announcing the winner of this beautiful Edgar Allan Poe quilt.

This wall hanging is 45”x45” and handmade. Made from 100% cotton, it is the perfect art piece to brighten up a wall or place across a plain bedspread.

To enter, follow the proceeding instructions. If you win, you will need to send me your mailing address for the quilt to be shipped to. If I don’t hear from the winner within 10 days, I will pull a new name.

Please like my Facebook page when you are there.

(For the blog follow button, after following, just type anything into the text bar.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I will be doing another giveaway June 2015, or after I receive 5,000 likes on my Facebook page, whichever comes first. I will keep everyone updated through my Facebook and Twitter account, so stay connected!


On December 15 I will be launching a new website featuring episodic short stories about two so called "vampire hunters" and their attempts to save the world, or just convince anyone with coin it needs it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How Freelance Editors Shoot Themselves in the Foot

This may be my hubris talking, but I always believed that the way academia handles writing is flawed, especially at my high school. Conversation with old comrades turns to the fact that while we were forced to learn and use the Jane Shaffer method for five years, when we got to college, each of us couldn’t figure out how to write an essay. We had someone holding our hand the entire time, making us not actually pay attention the process or having any idea why we did anything we did. We didn’t even understand what we were trying to do.

The school’s greatest failings, however, center around editing and critiques. While I do actually remember many classes that had us practicing criticizing each other, there wasn’t a lot of feedback on the critiques themselves. Most times, the author wasn’t even allowed to speak, which I’ve discussed before why I find that counterproductive to the process. And as for editing, well, sure we got the red marked pages back, but I don’t remember ever having to read them or do another draft. The turned in essay was supposed to be a polished draft already, which makes me convinced my teachers have never met a high school student before.

Critiquing and editing is not a natural skill, and it’s one glossed over in most situations. Not everyone knows how to do it even though we think it should be inherent. There are a lot of fallacies and myths going on about the editing process (I’m still surprised by how shocked some people are when I tell them a second draft isn’t always better than the first, like it never occurred to them that you could screw things up). Editing is just like writing in a lot of ways, where most people think they can do it, if only they’re just given the chance.

Along with self-publishing, the freelance editor has gained popularity. You want to publish your own book, it’s often a good idea to find a professional to give you feedback. But in the same way that you can’t trust a self-published work as much as you can a traditionally published one (we’ve all read that work filled with typos that completely lacks an ending) a freelance editor might not actually be experienced at all or good at what he does.

It’s hard hiring artists. Their skill level isn’t always consistent—by the nature of the beast—and even if they’re good at what they do they may not be what you’re looking for. If they suddenly decide to half ass it, which some are often inclined to do, then you’re helpless.

It’s difficult to tell how good an editor will be until after he’s already edited your book.

But it’s not like taking a chance on a self-published work where, if the author proves lacking, you’re out 99 cents. Ten dollars at max. An editor can cost anywhere from 300 to 3,000 dollars, and just because you’ve paid more doesn’t really mean anything. They often have websites with resume credits on it, but many times their work means little to you (I edited Joe Smith’s Little Red House), unless you’ve actually read it. And it’s not uncommon for them to just make things up. I read articles all the time about freelance editors who just jacked information from someone else’s page thinking they wouldn’t get caught. Which they usually don’t.

The best way for an editor to reveal his skill set is to have a blog. Whenever someone writes a lot about writing—his opinion, tips, what he’s reading, what he likes and doesn’t like—instead of reading their planted testimonies and a list of credits that are meaningless and might be made up, you find out a lot about the person and discover if you’re a good match or not. Knowing that what he likes to read is completely different than what you like to read tells you his issues will be those of taste rather than effectiveness. If he spends all his time ranting about prologues and adverb use and you find that to be the least important aspect of writing well, then you already know you’re going to be ticked when you get the drafts back. If, however, you find yourself agreeing with him and you seem to be on the same page, you might’ve found your literary soul mate and definitely should hire him.

The problem with these blogs, on the other hand, is it seems some people forget it’s their potential customers reading them. Same goes for Facebook statuses and Twitter accounts. While you have many people like me who aren’t in search for a freelance editor as of yet, I might very well be compelled to change my mind if the situation fits. If you are actively shopping around and are doing your research by checking out different avenues of their self-expression, you can easily be turned off by some of the things they have to say.

Truth is, in the same way a potential boss might be turned off by having pictures of you stumbling drunk on Facebook, potential customers are turned off by some of the things the freelances have to say.

If I ever decided to hire an outside editor who I hadn’t met in person, I can tell you a few things that would confirm someone wasn’t a right fit:

I would never hire someone who might mock my work in public.

Many times these editors post complaints about the “shit” they’re editing. Whether it be a vague tweet, “Books like these make me wish I was illiterate,” with no real indication on who or what that book is, or a more in depth, three page analysis on something specific, this sourpuss demeanor does not read as professional to me. It does not say I’m someone who likes to read, and it indicates that I can’t trust them. While I can get behind many negative posts, an editor and author relationship requires respect for each other in order to be its most effective. Ranting posts suggest that the editor, in fact, does not agree with this philosophy.

I would never hire someone who cuts corners.

My blog, for those skimmers out there, is called, “What’s Worse than Was: A website on how the word ‘was’ isn’t the worst thing a writer can do.”

In response to this, a freelance editor told me that when editing a book, he could tell “how good it was,” by using finder to see how many times the word “was” was used. After a certain number, he knew that it was terrible.

I’m not going to critique the method itself—hey, it might work. I haven’t tried it—but I will say that, while he didn’t realize that I might be a future customer, he did make it so that I’m certainly not now.

Editors love to brag about how they cut corners when editing or simply judging a book. “I just turn straight to page 17, and if there’s not an inciting incident, then I know it’s not any good.”

See, what I’m hiring you to do is not to tell me how I’m not fitting into a formula, but rather tell me how the book made you react (or didn’t), why you probably reacted that way, and to give me a couple of solutions to solve the problem. Truth is, I know a lot of the writing rules already. I could make a formulaic book with ease. Anyone could. But no book like that will ever be considered great, which is why when to follow the rules and why you should follow them now, is important.

Announcing to me that you don’t consider context when editing suggests that you can be replaced by a computer. And if you can be, believe me, you will be.

I would never hire someone whose focus was on archaic grammar rules.

Grammar Nazism can be useful, yet, again, context is extremely important.

I’ve had authors and editors complain about speaking in the vernacular in Facebook statuses. The one person I’ve blocked was someone who told me not to end a sentence in a preposition. I repeat, in a Facebook status.

When I want feedback from someone, I’m looking for their opinion. What do they see that I can’t? I hate getting back a manuscript that just fixates on grammar and typos with no abstract, big picture issues. What’s worse is when they focus on doing things technically correct, not emotionally effectively.

While the zoomed in focus on grammar and typos is irritating, it’s useless when the editor brings in technically correct but long forgotten rules, especially when he doesn’t understand why those rules existed in the first place.

What’s the consequence of ending a sentence in a preposition? Does it jar the reader? Corrupt understanding? Make anyone who’s not trying to prove their literary superiority cry? No, it’s because it makes English less like Latin. Yep. Back in the 1700’s a literary critic wanted to make English grammar conform to the dead language, and his propaganda was pretty popular and well repeated, but he was never successful in making it actually incorrect, which is why your computer doesn’t bitch at you when you do it.

Being technically correct can be far more jarring than being incorrect. It can also change the tone and cadence of your writing. It sometimes has no point other than to prove superiority. Mostly though, if that’s the most important thing someone wants to talk about, it indicates to me a lack of more interesting thoughts.

I would never hire someone who doesn’t think for himself.

Personally I interpret an obsession with grammar as insecurity. Not that I mind when people point out typos, spelling errors, and the like, nor do I really believe that people who are good at grammar are all self-doubting, but when that’s all they will talk there’s a reason.

When someone doesn’t consider the effect of the grammar rule, he’s limiting my palate. If he doesn’t consider why I have a sentence fragment here, or used “me” instead of “I” in my dialogue, then why wouldn’t I just use a computer program? It doesn’t judge me, can’t post complaints about me in Facebook, and gets the job done quickly.

An editor needs to be more than just some formula pushing junkie. He needs to be a creative sort who is willing to stand back and consider someone else’s tastes to maximize the books potential. He cannot be some closed-minded parrot.

If an editor has a list of blogs complaining about grammar rules that no one cares about, or if his articles are all things we’ve heard before without any semblance of original opinion, it is an indication he’s not a critical thinker.

When looking for an editor, I’m trying to find someone who can do what I can’t; the opinion of someone who didn’t make the book, a different level of experience, simply ideas and inspiration that I wouldn’t have come up with on my own. If the editor acts like a computer where he uses simple formulas instead of his brain, or if he behaves like an amateur with a light grasp of concepts I am fully informed of, then he’s not any use to me. Why would I pay him so much?

If I’m looking for an editor, I’m looking for his mind. If I’m looking for common writing techniques and tricks, I’m looking for Google.