So, it’s finally happened. I got the notes back from my editor a while ago and since then, only writing has been on my mind.
Let me first fill you in. I went through a bit of a bad patch last year with an editor. Not because of bad critique, but because of the complete lack of critique (there were only a handful of corrections throughout the entire novel). I don’t want to make a bad situation worse by muddying someone’s name. But I will say that when you pay someone for a service and they don’t provide that service at all, anyone would be angry.
Taking the step to hire an editor is a big one. Anyone in a creative field – or any field where your work will be dissected and scrutinized – will know how difficult it is to trust someone with your creative baby. Editors are there to tell you where you screwed up, whether it concerns grammar to characters acting crazy. It’s their flipping job to pull your work apart and tell you where you can improve it. THAT is what you pay them for.
As a writer, I’m still an infant. I have tons to learn about the industry and about myself as a writer. For me, getting someone with experience to edit my work wasn’t a small thing. It was the next best step to improve. You can’t edit your own work. I get that. I know how many times I’ve read a sentence and missed the smallest little mistake, because I wrote it and I know what I intended to write. It makes me feel like an ass when someone points it out, because HOW DID I MISS IT?!?! In everyday life I don’t see my own quirks, except when someone points them out to me. As a writer, I have quirks too. Sometimes those quirks are OK, but other times they remove from the story I’m trying to tell.
What I’m trying to say is that I wanted to get my work edited to learn. I wanted to get a grasp on what mistakes I blindly make and how to identify my quirks. I wanted someone objective to tell me if the story was weak or could make it to the end of the marathon. Being dealt a bad hand with the first editor was a learning curve in itself.
I learned how to approach editors. I learned that I could ask for an editing sample. I learned that editing styles really do differ like day and night and that I won’t necessarily like all editing styles. I learned that picking the wrong editor the first time led to picking a perfect one the second time.
It’s still early days, you know, but I can honestly tell you I’ve struck gold.
Rita was the one to help me find two possible editors. She is the most connected person in the universe, after all! I sent emails to both ladies and asked for editing samples. Both came back to me promptly and sent me their preliminary edits. I immediately clicked with the editor I would choose in the end, because her emails were like chatting to an old friend, not at all like someone with a scalpel to your work.
She sent me her first round of notes after about three weeks. That amazed me, because the first editor had my novel for over six months. The feedback I got was good. Or at least hopeful. I mean, sure, there is a ton of work to be done now. I made a lot of mistakes with my style and grammar. My characters aren’t as three dimensional as they can be. There are some discrepancies in my story-line. But, you know, my editor believes in this novel. And that makes it awesome.
When you read about people’s experiences with editors on the internet, your heart kind of sinks. A lot of editors seem to have this god-complex, because, let’s face it, if you pay the amount of cash that you pay to some editors, you shut up and accept whatever the hell they say. They ghost write and rip out entire chapters or characters if they don’t like them. I’m not saying all editors are that way, I’ve only had experience with two up to this point.
I was extremely lucky to find someone who edited my work without making me feel like a failure. She told me straight out when things weren’t perfect or made no sense, but she did so without being cruel. To add to that, she sent me a load of helpful links to articles and tutorials on being a better writer. She didn’t have to do that. I’ve done some writing exercises with my new knowledge and I can already see a major improvement. That says something!
I find that the biggest thing I learned from this experience is to do more to keep myself informed about writing. When I blogged about beauty, I actively followed every trend and advancement in the cosmetics industry. I knew when new products exploded onto the scene, what new trends were making their way out of Japan and Korea, and I could pretty much predict colour and make-up movements for the year to come.
I haven’t done that with writing. I now know that I need to read more about writing. I need to force myself to improve by practising and learning. I need to find workshops and challenge myself to attend. So that’s one of my goals for this year.
I hope that by the time November comes, I’m ready for it. I don’t want to bail out on it again this year.
Even if you don’t write, I hope this post inspired you to hone your own skills too. Whatever it is we do or love, we should always keep our skills sharp. So go out there and learn something.
Now excuse me while I delve into the details of my new world. I’ve just finished my maps (booya) and now I need to flesh out the world. I’ll share all of this here soon.