Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Working with Editors.

I love working with editors. It is such an enlightening experience. Having said that I have been very lucky in that the two main editors I have worked with have really understood my writing and got my stories. Every time they have brought something new and good to the process. I have never once felt like it was a negative process. I do know of others where this has not been the case, so I do count my blessings.

Don't get me wrong when the email arrives with the edits attached I do have that gulp moment and have to let them settle before realising that, yes they are right. They will make the book better. I can see why they are being suggested. You don't always have to agree but you have to have a good reason not to. Editorial comments are there for discussion. They are suggesting you look at an element in the manuscript and consider an alternative way of exploring it. 

It is always important to remember that an editor's opinion is precisely that, an opinion. There is that joke that you put seven editors in a room and give them the same manuscript and you will get seven different lots of editorial comments. I can say the same about writers. If I set my students a writing task where I give them all the same opening sentence, not one of them will write the same story. It is because everything we do, whether it is writing or reading/interpreting what we read is based upon our life experiences. Our education, our upbringing, our politics, our interests. The films we watch, the books we read. Everything has an impact. If you want to get all theoretical you go down the lines of Roland Barthes and his tissue of citations. But let's not. 


This is why it is so important to be open-minded to editorial suggestions and not defensive. Don't be precious about your work. You want it to be the best it can be. You will be too close to it and you won't see the flaws, however, often you have proofread it. Believe me. There have been many a moment when I have cringed when one of my editors have highlighted something that I would have jumped on my students for doing. But I just didn't see it because I was too close to it. I confess I was mortified. Don't be hard on yourself but welcome your editor's input. 

Working with an editor is a joy because they are as passionate about your story as you are. They want to talk about your story as much as you do. Trying to talk to my family about my story is never the same. They are very tolerant of me, bless them, but they don't really care. They are not particularly interested. But your editor is. Make the most of it. Share your ideas when you discuss your editorial notes. Bounce ideas around. It is a chance to get honest feedback. 

Obviously being part of a crit group helps you get used to having feedback, but always make sure it is constructive feedback you are receiving and it is not someone trying to make the book into their book. Always listen to the feedback and ask questions about your manuscript. If you don't agree and you have a good reason not to agree, like with editorial feedback you don't have to follow it. But make sure it is a good reason and you are not just being precious about your work. 

How I envisage the latent 
process
A man reading in the garden
Honore Daumier

I spent years receiving feedback as a student then giving it as a lecturer and as an editor with the Golden Egg Academy. It doesn't make getting feedback from an editor any easier. I still get just as worried though once I have got the edits, I get really excited because I love doing editing and bringing the story to life. Making it sing by ensuring it is the best story it can be. It is all about giving yourself time for latent processing once you have the editorial notes and then enjoy the rewriting. This is why I love working with editors and as I said I've worked with two of the best, Imogen Cooper and Janet.Thomas. 

Happy writing/editing everyone!


 

No comments:

Post a Comment