My Bibliography

Monday, 20 January 2014

Working with an Editor

Coming at the end of January - Moments in Millennia: A Fantasy Anthology! Join seven authors as they take you on adventures through the past, future, and dimensions unexplored!

Click the link above to join the (release) party!

~*~

On this blog, I often use the metaphor for my writing journey, as being a trek through a mountain range. I’ve detailed hikes over tried and tested paths, sometimes even trying to clear my own, through the Alps for years - 750 miles across eight Alpine countries. No mean feat.
I related, in a previous blogpost, about the various stages of metamorphoses of becoming a writer, as being akin to what animal spirit guides represent - starting out as a lone wolf, and everything in-between, until eventually soaring as an eagle.
But I also said, that when I reached the other end of the Alps, there were a couple of condescending Sherpa waiting there for me - meaning of course, that the writing journey never ends. I had yet to embark upon the precipitous terrain of the Andes.
That’s where I’ve been for the past few months.
I left off detailing this journey, here on this blog, with the news that I had decided to try and get a publisher. And I did. For, despite my efforts at self-publishing, and trying to keep up with the constantly evolving paradigm that the role social media demands of most anything these days, I felt I was taking one step forward, and two back, for that particular trek was all a bit arduous for my artistically-inclined sensibility.
I’ve always known that the business side of anything is not where my talent lies. I just can’t commit myself to facts and figures and social media marketing etc. despite my best efforts. And anyway, there were too many other writers doing the same thing. I needed help. Badly. Thank God for the Sherpa.
But let me tell you, the air up there in the Andes is thin - and I’ve only just started out.
As you can see, my name (very proudly) appears on this book cover here - a fantasy anthology, from Xchyler Publishing. The book release party will be held on 31st January 2014. My story, at 15,000 words, is the last in the book, and is called ‘Black Ice.’ The eye in the sky - I dare to think - might just have something to do with my particular story, and below, is a quick blurb about it:
A murderer, sentenced to ‘infinity’, lobbies an automaton society and the omniscient supremacy of three worlds in the hopes of finally being put to death.
The process of editing wasn’t easy for me. I will admit. But it took me completely by surprise at what a prima donna I became during it – although my editor, self admittedly, did come in off the bat with a bleeding red pen, which she had the good grace, and professionalism to apologize for, and pointed me to an article that she’d written about how devastating that can be to a new writer – or at least one embarking the professional world – or, if you like, the Andes.
And after a mix of emotion, that had my heart thumping, and my psyche going to dark places that I never knew existed, and I thought I had been to them all, I nearly self-destructed - as my pride can sometimes make me do. I had so looked forward to this part of the journey, but I came to realize that I was being weighed down with the baggage from the last one. In the end, it was ‘all good’. We moved upwards and forward, and I told her to ‘bring it on’ - after being pushed in at the deep end, I felt I could handle anything. And I did. But still, surprisingly, it wasn’t as easy for me as fellow authors with Xchyler had told me it had been for them. And so I couldn't help but feel rather inadequate.
Being British, was a little bit of an obstacle, I think, for even though I’ve lived in North America for twenty years, and thought I knew how to relate to both sides of the pond, there were so many idioms from the UK that I had no idea were not used in the US. And here, rather suitably, is what my editor said about that:
“Let's stick to the fish and chips and dark ale, and steer away from the blood pudding and haggis.”
Lol.
But more, I think, while good writing should know no borders, I do believe that there is a distinct difference in style between British and American writers, and that might have been at least a part of the issue for me. I hope so.
However, without going into it all here, I am signed with an American publisher, and so fair enough; I should try to adapt. Compromise.
My biggest fear, though, was that my voice would be lost, the one that I took pleasure in yodelling across the Alps. I did not want to, as I said to my editor, be yet another monotone voice that simply follows a formula, be one of those writers whose voice blends in with every other. While formulas are necessary, I do like to add my own ingredients. I like to make the recipe my own - like my world-famous chilli, or my spaghetti.
I can be more aggressive than most. I know. I am more willing to be slightly politically incorrect. Audacious. And I do like to inject a generous helping of humour into my work. But I get it; it’s not always suitable. And so with the assurance from my editor-in-chief, that she is not, by any means, a ‘MacDonald’s type editor’, saying that the reason my story was accepted (when I pouted as to why exactly was it? Lol) was because it was ‘original, imaginative, clever, intelligent and engrossing, but what needed doing is clarification and communication.’
She assured me that I would be very pleased with the end product, and that my voice would remain intact. I was. And it is. And I am now very excited for the book’s release.
During this process I learned a great deal about myself, and it elevated me to new heights on my writing journey. I won’t go into it all here, there’s not enough space. But one day . . .
I do want to say, though, that a lot of what I brought along from the Alps needed discarded. That it used up too much precious oxygen. Short quick breaths are what are needed for the Andes. And while it will take a great deal of time indeed to cross the longest mountain range in the world – 120 miles long, 430 wide - I’ve learned to pause and take in the views. I’ve learned to breathe new life into all of my writing - old and new - from the invaluable knowledge that I’ve gained from reaching a new plateau. So a big ‘thank you’ to all my editors.
If you’re reading this, and have always believed that you have the ability to self-edit (and its way more than just correcting grammar and punctuation etc.) if I were you, I’d really rethink that; you may have no idea, like we do when we’ve been driving for years, just what bad habits you’ve picked up, or think are acceptable. Habits that have never been pointed out to you–e.g. by writer friends, who, in this self publishing world, may have the same tendencies, or who may not know any different.

It may not be a picnic with a red chequered blanket - rather bully-beef rations served up at base camp - but it certainly helps to satiate the hunger.
Xchyler Publishing edit the works that they are publishing only, but if you are looking for the services of an affordable editor, I suggest you might try here: Jeri Walker-Bickett. An editor whose professional standards, in all aspects of writing, I've come to know over the last couple of years. You might be surprised at just how polished your ideas can become. I was.

4 comments:

  1. We certainly grow as writers and people by taking all aspects of the process to heart. Every time I write something, I kid myself into thinking it's just spiffy, but I know it's not. Even though I get a bit nauseous every time I send my work to others for feedback, I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, writing isn't just about what we get down on the page, it's about how the majority of readers will interact with what we've put down on the page. My editor side knows this so well that I often think it really slows my writing process. Still though, we soldier on in our own idiosyncratic ways learning what we can as we go. I'm looking forward to reading your story.

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    1. Yes, I've slowed down a bit too, taking all of that into consideration, although, I've already told myself just to get on with the story I'm writing, and go through at the end as usual, The point is,after all, that I feel better equipped to now - time to get a supply or rubber bands I think!

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  2. I am anxious to see how this story compares to your others.

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    1. Hi Jon, yes I was a little anxious at first about my style being lost, but I have to say, its probably clearer now, and it does still retain something of the humour that you might be accustomed to - even if that was tamed a bit in this one. Lol. I think you can still expect the unexpected though.

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