As most of you know, I’m currently in the editing phase of writing my book. I’ve sent it to a plethora of friends and family for solid readings, and that nudged my writing upwards. Now I have one person fully dedicated to looking at every word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter, pondering on how I take my manuscript from “good enough to get me published” to “if you miss reading this, you’ll never sit at the cool kids table.” Or something like that.
The worst and best part about the process is: it hurts like hell.
When you care about the craft of writing, putting words together so they don’t just make sense, they transport the reader into your shoes for a hot minute. Having someone even mess with the order of the words feels like they’re criticizing your person, as if your work of art and inner thoughts aren’t good enough. It’s especially true when someone says, “Oh, this is good!” but then leaves all these red marks all over the sheets.
That’s why I use grey ink instead of red. Actually, I prefer any other color besides red. Red scares me.
Yet, as with so many other writers, we all need editors. Hell, even the editors who write need editors. If we constantly have the need to correct others when they misread something we write, or want to “leave something they way it is” more often than letting someone suggest a clearer way of saying something, then we ought to consider why we write.
Writing is, above all else, the art of communicating with intent. To the degree to which we convey this message, integrating our respective and collective humanities into the works, is what makes our message powerful. It’s hard to tell how much power we have sometimes without a clear gauge for it. Commenters and fans work, but so does someone whose sole focus is that critical eye.
Thus, we as writers must learn to lose control, as awkward as that sounds. Sometimes, the right set of eyes can magnify your message, and that’s the task entrusted in my current editors. Any of them.
So here’s my message to those starting NaNoWriMo soon: if you know where the critique comes from, don’t take it personally. Exposing your work to others is often a blessing, and makes you the best you. Even if you’re not actually writing a novel per se, you’re working on your writing daily, trying to find your voice, and hoping you find a rhythm that may lead to a longform piece. Just know that someone’s out there reading it, and you disregard what a true editor has to say about the piece, your piece will land with a current reader, a future fan, or a hater.
Two out of three ain’t bad. I just hope you hit your mark.
p.s. – I got over the hurt of having my pieces edited a long time ago. Now, I love the dialogue around the pieces, smiling all along the way.
*** photo c/o http://janefriedman.com/ ***