Friday, May 6, 2011

Getting Edited

A year or so after I began writing, I started wondering if  I was any good. There was no way for me to objectively tell. I had to find someone that would be bluntly honest with me; if what I was doing was publish-worthy. Not that it would've stopped me from writing if I sucked, but at least I would know what I should do; start seeking publishing or keep working on the writing itself.

I found an editor by shopping the Internet, emailing potentials, and came upon a Canadian freelance editor, Alethea Spiridon, and gave her a call. You know how they say you get a gut feeling about some things? Yup, my gut was happy. I sent her the first book in my trilogy, the outlines of book 2 and 3 in that trilogy, and waited for the MS evaluation to come back.

The day I got the evaluation back was an emotional shock. My trilogy was, in fact, a much more solid single novel, according to the evaluation. But there was hope, and very specific advice on what worked (yeah!), and what didn't work (yeah, too, because that is what I needed to know.)

What did I do next? I took the weekend to cry. I mourned the loss of the 100,000 plus words that would be axed. I even considered if I should follow the advice at all. In the end, I realized I had only been in the writing scene for a few years, ultimately didn't know anything, and if I really wanted to get somewhere that I should give my type A personality a rain check on control.

Being edited was a great lesson in writing, because I learned that as personally attached as I am to what I write, feedback that something doesn't work or just plain sucks (my favorite comment in the MS eval was along the lines of "your character can't do this! Who does this?") IS NOT a personal attack. Writing is art, but it's a type of art with rules (even though they may be flexible) and boundaries on good taste. Most times it takes an outside look to tell you if you've coloured in the lines, or if your free-hand sketch is hideous or not.

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