Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Tip o' the Hat to Editors!

A willful writer named Pam,
Loved jiggin' the head-hoppin' jam,
Omniscient third person
Her constant assertion,
And Oxford Comma be damn.

But creative writing aside,
By edits she had to abide.
With delusions appended
And POV mended,
Surrender proved sweeter than pride.

Taking the best of what an author writes and shining it up pretty is what a professional editor does. A truly tough and more often than not, thankless job. Correcting the myriad of uncouth mistakes, mechanical debacles, grammatical taboos and misspelled words (that slipped the noose of spell-check) in order to spit and polish a manuscript. Wow! Add to that daunting task, the finesse it takes to correct without changing the style and voice of a writer, the essence of a story, the heart of characterization and you have the makings of the truly heroic. The unsung masters we writers fear and yet can not, should not, live without. 

How do they do it? Keep their cool, their sanity and their right brain reigned in? Because those of us with dominant right brains know how hard our left brain rides us with the rake of spurs we habitually ignore.

My critique partners can tell you how bad I am at taking advice. I snivel, hem-haw, mewl, listen generally, argue incessantly, accept advice grudgingly. Still, I value the "editing" process right alongside the creative one. As a perfectionist and OCD, I must rewrite, edit and rewrite a manuscript half a hundred times. And that's before I let anyone else see it. And believe me, I don't keep my cool, my sanity or my right brain reigned in!

So, God bless editors, one and all. And a million thanks. Feeling accomplished as a writer did not feel real when I got Smitten Image accepted by a publisher. Not until a professional editor placed her mark on my work did I truly realize I'd arrived. At last.

(Drawing by John R. O'Neil)


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