Saturday, 20 April 2013

Rewriting and editing with a true professional

The indefatigable Imogen
I am lucky, so lucky. Not only do I get to work with my dear friend Imogen Cooper at Golden Egg Academy. But the inimitable Imogen is also working with me on the novel that was originally my PhD. It is very different now. It has grown and strengthened under her guiding hand. She is the Senior Editor for Chicken House Publishing and is award winning, having won and been shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award. (See how lucky I am?)

On Thursday we spent a brain frazzling day on the novel. The woman is so insightful. She is very good at highlighting the things you actually knew needed changing but have been ignoring hoping it was just your imagination. A tip for all: if in your gut you feel something is not working, inevitably you are right. Listen to it. It can be a very good editor and save time later.

One of the worst things about being a creative writing lecturer is that you expect not to make the same mistakes as your students. However, sometimes you just can't see them even though it is all too easy to see it everyone else's work. I can assure it is very cringe making when they are highlighted. But one of the most important things I can bring to my teaching and share with my students is my own experience and processes including the painful ones.

The other important point I will be telling my students is that writing a novel takes time - never a great thing to acknowledge for someone like me who is renowned for being impatient.This is made more difficult by the limited time I find for writing at the moment (as is the case with all writers I am sure). Work just gets in the way and sucks the life out of you. I find sometimes the words flow and other times I could be pulling teeth as I try and put a single word on the page. But hopefully it will all be worth it in the end. I have the summer ahead of me, the joys of being an academic, and that is when I plan to soon as the marking is finished that is!

Working with Imogen is easy. She knows what she is doing and is very clever at helping you to understand what needs to be done without making you feel stupid. She teases the ideas out of you and suddenly there is the light bulb moment as you realise how you can make the story even stronger.  I still love the story I have written and I love what I am going to do to it next. I am killing off three characters and rewriting the beginning. All good stuff.

The fact Imogen has set up Golden Egg Academy means she is just as willing to share her talents with those who want to attend. Time is always a precious commodity but Imogen is so generous with hers. So I will say again I am incredibly lucky to be working with her on so many levels including the fact she has become a great friend and this is my chance to say, thank you Imogen. X

Now I have some rewriting to do and a schedule to keep to. Be back soon.

And here is my tribute to Storm Thorgerson who designed the album covers that illustrated my teenage life and who sadly lost his battle with cancer this week. Here is Pink Floyd's 'The Great Gig in the Sky'


  1. You are very lucky, Vanessa. Now, if only Imogen could clone herself ...

  2. Too right - or should it be 'to write' ?

  3. That is very true. A world full of Imogen's