Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Working With an Editor: Stop Whining and Get to Work

I promise, my editor does not say that to me, but I do say it to myself. If I'm going to be honest, I do whine a little, but only to myself or my characters. Whenever I get the initial notes back from my editor, I have to give myself a pep talk. I haven't confessed this to my editor because I'm about to contradict myself and tell you how much I enjoy the editing process. 

So, why the self-encouragement? Because writing, and especially editing, can be tough. When you finish that first draft, there's a feeling of amazement that you finished it, followed by disbelief that it's done, followed by groaning and moaning because you're reminded that the "work" hasn't even begun. This is the part where I need the pep talk. 

It doesn't take long for me to get over my woes and remember that I have an awesome editor who is not only honest, but also encouraging. She understands that rewrites and edits can be tough on an author. As the author, we have to pick apart our "baby." We have to make friends with the delete button, and perhaps even kill off a character we liked because we didn't want to admit that the character just didn't work in the story. 

Interestingly enough, this is the point where the true magic happens. That delete button can become your best friend. Those notes and edits weren't given to stifle the writing or the author, but to help and enhance. They're meant to get the writer thinking about the story on a deeper level. They ask the questions that need answers. They fill the plot holes that need filling. They help add pace and polish.

An editor shouldn't have to tiptoe around the author's feelings because that doesn't help the author or the book. If an author doesn't feel comfortable enough with their editor to accept their praise, their comments, and their efforts to help both you and your writing, then that author-editor relationship probably isn't working. You should be able to whine a little, throw the pity-party, and get back on that horse (Okay, I added all of those cliches because I'm not allowed to use them in my books, so I have to use them somewhere). Having said that, an editor has to be honest, and the author has be to be able to accept the honesty for what it is.

If you want to be more than a writer, such as a real-life published author, then at some point, the whining has to stop and the ego has to be tossed out the door. No one gets it right on the first draft. The only way to get it right is to keep working, continue to write, and then when you're done with that write some more. It's a tough job, but with the right attitude, and the right editor, there are no limits except the ones we place on ourselves.

Disclaimer: My editor does not edit my blog posts. 

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