Editors are important. They are frustrating, sometimes grating, and annoying (did I mention frustrating) but absolutely essential.
I once worked with a guy who hated the idea of deleting any of his words at all. The mere suggestion that you delete even one word of this his prose would send him into a fit of despair. He no longer works around me, but he did teach me the importance of having a thick skin. Watching him devolve into fits of grandeur as he explained that what he wrote was absolutely gold was very unnerving. His final argument was always, “You just don’t understand.”
Recently I got back my current work in progress with a lot of editing marks on it. It’s true that there was a time in my life where I would have run away screaming. You probably would have found me under my bed drinking out of a sippy cup filled with chardonnay Chardonnay.
But, I’m a big kid now. I’ve learned a couple of very important points that every professional writer needs to know and accept. The first, and maybe most important, is that you’re your editor doesn’t hate you. As a matter of fact, they have a vested interest in seeing you succeed and know that sometimes tough love is necessary.
He or she can be abrasive and sometimes irritating, but they want to see your book be the best it can be. However, it’s not a one-way street. You can’t just take what they give you and walk away sulking. You have to know when to push back a little.
For example, my present current editor is from a different region of the U.S. than I am. This should not make a huge difference, but it does. His word choices are not always what I would use. He is from the Western part of the US and I am from the Midwest. So, sometimes I don’t take his suggestions because it’s just not the word choices I would make. Not to say that he’s wrong, it is just that sometimes his word choices would never be my own.
You might ask yourself why I use someone who is from a completely different part of the country than I am? Well, that’s simple. He does a really good job and since he’s from a different part of the U.S., his inputs into my writing style help broaden the acupuncture aperture of my writing.
The editor/writer relationship is critical. It is somewhat like a marriage in some respects. You have to trust that they have your best interests at heart. You have to be willing to honest with them. Sometimes they are going to tell your things that you don’t want to hear. However, you have to shear here hear it either way. And it sucks, and it’ll be momentarily painful, but you have to hear it if you ever hope to be a better writer.
So, I’d like to take a moment out of my hectic vacation to raise a wine glase glass to the humble editor. The unsung hero of the writing world.
The role of the editor does not absolve you from forcing yourself to do a little soul searching. Recently I found I had to dive farther into the writing craft to try and up my game. It’s not always easy to grow as a writer. I think the hardest part about it is to really learn to accept your own faults and try to address them. You do this knowing that anything you wrote in the past will carry those faults in perpetuity no matter what you do. The mistakes you make as an author in 2016 will be there for the world to see long after you have left this earthly form. Somewhere, out there, lurks a poorly structured sentence that I gave birth to.
So, once again I dive into the realm of self-reflection. I look at myself in the mirror and after marveling at how handsome I really am. After I am done indulging in my own delusions, I take a closer look at the blemishes and faults. They are there, that is for sure. Standing out for all the world to see. Addressing what is wrong with yourself can be hard, but it can be very therapeutic as well.
*Note: Errors are
-Your humble servant,