Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Having your cake and edit too.

Okay, so enough with the bad puns. I couldn't help it, but it is apropos to the post, as you might see a bit further on. If you have been following me on Facebook or my blog, you may know that I am at that magical time; that wonderfully tremulous span of getting my book edited. I figured as a debut author, I would share my thoughts on this part of the process. Those of you who have been through this may sympathize and those of you who are pioneering their way for the first time may get a few tips on what to expect.

Let me tell you what I expected; First, the wonder. The beauty of finally being able to share your child with someone else. Finally the chance for another person to acknowledge the pure awesomeness of your writing talent. You will, after months or years, get that first glimpse of the critical acclaim you have been striving for and craving. (Admit it liar! You just worked your posterior off. Slaving ALONE for days on end, with no one else. You know you want it. It's okay to admit it at this point. You are set to bask in the adulation you deserve.)

What you will get in reality however, is far different. You will receive, for all that aforementioned hard work and struggle, the equivalent of a swift kick to the groin. What is going to add even more to the delicious irony of it all is; you're going to pay for it too. (Add maniacal laughter) I mean it, hard earned cash, to get told you have all the leet skillz of an eight year old Kalaharian Bushman seeing the English language for the first time.

A pretty smart guy named Splitter once told me about the editing process, "At this point you have a great story, NOT a great book." I should have listened but I succumbed to the one inborn affliction I can not escape, I am a man. That means, I have gonads and sometimes they are so large they actually block out my hearing. Gonna have to trust me on that image if you suffer from severe gonadial bereftment syndrome, (Or girl for short.) I get the trademark on that BTW.

I went into this with all the wide eyed wonderment of a child at Christmas and came out with all the shaking and self revulsion of anyone who paid to watch, "Human Centipede" in the movies. (Please add in the groanings of Side-show Bob here)

I am NOT knocking my editor. I actually have the best one I could have hoped for; supremely talented, endlessly upbeat and just basically an angel of a human being, to put up with my bottomless question pool and newbie status. She is doing EXACTLY what I paid for, which is make my good story into a great book that will engage more people than I would have on my own. The problem lies within my own soul. Editing is NOT a trial for those weak of self image or backbone. For me at least, I had to adjust my view from inward, my skills and my talents, to outward, expanding the books potential readership and thereby earning me an even greater reward.

Every time you get back a chapter that you thought was incredible, with all the nit-picking little notations AND all the glaring errors you over-looked, is not an indictment on your talent. It's a chance to take something that's beautiful and make it shine brighter than anything you could have hoped for. The problem on this, is all with you and not your editor. (As a note; there ARE bad editors. Those who don't respect your 'voice' in telling the story, those who are fascist and demand their way or the highway and trample your vision as an author. Even those who simply don't do their job well. Those are for a different post.) This is just for getting your expectations correct.

After I got over my initial dismay, well disguised between gruff guffaws and silent tears hidden in the bathroom and blamed on cat allergies, I found something out; my editor was right. This process that I thought was solely designed to strip me of any lingering testosterone, was actually making my book a better story and vice-verse.

So if you are at that point now, buck-up snowflake. It's just a small sharp kick sending your gonads/ovaries straight into your esophagus. Then it's an eternity of a polished, much better work of art, presented to the public for their consumption. You can do it. I know you can. I can't wait to see the diamond you have, after coaxing it from the beautiful rock you started with!

By the way for anyone interested in a great editor, you can find some info on the person I have been blessed to work with here;


Knock twice and ask for Amy.

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