Sometimes writing can be scary. But we write anyway.
Otherwise, your imaginary friends can really make you question reality.
2013 was a wild and wooly year for me for many reasons, both
personal and professional. In the end, the details are mine alone; but it is
sufficient to say that it was definitely a year of growth and change.
One of those big “growing moments” as a writer came in
mid-December, when I did something I’d never done before: I took a completed,
self-edited manuscript and handed it off to an editor for scrutiny.
I knew she would agree with me on the errors and issues I
I knew she would spot errors and issues to which I was
I knew her scrutiny would make my tale stronger, more
I had no idea how to-the-marrow, precise, and brutally
insightful her assessments would truly be.
Sometimes I highlight whole sections and delete them. And start over again.
Sometimes multiple times, until I get it right.
Then I feel halfway decent about what I've done.
And then I need an editor.
At the time I'm writing this, I have not yet received
the full edits back. But she has contacted me three times in the last couple
weeks with questions. The first two times, they were questions with the intent
of helping her better understand the overall vision and trajectory of my tale.
The third time, however, I got a few “Have you
considered….?” questions. As in, “Have you considered making character X more
ignorant of [plot point A] and [plot point B] so that she can be more
Of course, making X more ignorant of A and B changes a lot
of things about her as a character. A LOT.
But just listening to my editor’s concise, penetrating
questions made me realize her ultimate goal is to make my story the most
powerful, well-formed, impactful tale it can be.
Sometimes abominable amounts of coffee are needed to help me through a mad writing session.
Can't wait to see what the editing marathons will be like. o__O
On a surface level, I already knew that I needed an editor. I’ve read the blog
posts, seen the tweets, followed editors, agents, and other publishing gurus.
I’ve talked to authors who’ve walked this path before. So from
an academic standpoint, I already knew it would be immensely helpful. I
wouldn’t have doled out my hard-earned cash (read: squeezing blood out of
stones because I was immensely short on monies
) to hire one.
To know a truth experientially, however, is another thing
Just the little bit of feedback I’ve received so far has
been enough to show me that no matter how gorgeous I think my idea is, how in
love with my characters, how passionate about the storyline, how self-critical
I am about my own work – I cannot see all the flaws.
In fact, some narrative flaws were so oddly positioned that
I saw them as strengths.
Some narrative strengths had lodged in my perspective so
crookedly that I saw them as flaws.
Character X, for instance, is one I’ve struggled with
immensely as I endeavored to write her in the most dynamic way. By the time I
handed off my manuscript for editing, I was so frustrated that I was 100%
positive she was a weak, flimsy character. I told the editor so.
“I need help with her,” I said.
“I’ll give her a look,” said the editor.
When she contacted me later with her questions, the editor’s
verdict on X stunned me.
“She’s too superwoman,” she said. “Too complete. She needs
to grow and change with the story. Have you considered….?”
Then came a couple broad suggestions. My editor needed to
know if I was willing to compromise on some things, because my willingness
would impact the specificity of her suggestions to both the character, and the
overall work. Her initial suggestions, however, meant doing heavy renovations
to X’s character: her awareness of self, her personality, her personal history,
And of course, those suggestions impact how other characters
respond to her, and how she responds to them. In short, those “few” edits will drastically
impact the whole book.
And you know what? She’s entirely right.
X needs to change – and the rest of the cast with her, if
necessary. Even if it means reconfiguring certain aspects of the plot.
And when all else fails - do it old school. At least when it comes to storyboarding.
Sometimes writing it longhand is therapeutic too - mostly because the interwebz
is not lurking behind your word document, mocking you.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because this is part of my
journey as a writer, and I figure at least a few of my blog followers are in
same or similar positions as yet-unpublished authors.
I also feel that, if I take time to articulate where I am in
this process, it will help me become a stronger writer – both in my craft, and my
ability to take constructive criticism.
What I would like to do over the next few months is post
some “Love Your Editor” blog posts (as time permits, as I still have multiple
jobs). I would like to share some of the feedback I’ve received, and how that
impacts me as a writer and, of course, the story I hope to one day publish.
Today is the “Early Feedback” episode because (as I said) I
don’t have the full edits back yet. But I should have them soon. And when I do,
you’ll hear from me now and then about how I’m ingesting and responding to this
very new (for me) stage of the writing journey.
I hope you’ll follow along. J
What about you? Where are you in
your personal writing journey?
Have you had any experience with
editors, good or bad?
Let me know in the comments
And as always – thanks for