Friday, October 12, 2012

An editor: the best lab partner ever.

Soon after I signed my contract with WiDo Publishing, I recieved my first email from my editor,  introducing herself and explaining how she wanted my manuscript formatted for her first read-through. I'd heard horror stories about the editing process, and my short-lived experience as a writer in the political arena had instilled in me a sort of PTSD in regards to all red ink. But I was determined to soldier on and be brave about what she might say (or slash and burn.) When I emailed her, I told her not to hold back, and that the only thing I liked sugarcoated was my cereal. Or something to that affect. And then she explained to me what her role in this was: a partner, a side-kick, a sounding board. One edit turned into four, emails shot back and forth at all hours, and we became exactly that.

This is how I know best to explain the partnership between a writer and his/her editor. The process is more like a biology lab and not at all like a biology lecture. Lecture: the teacher stands in front of the class and yammers on for an hour, writing in chicken scratch on a dry erase board. Lab: you and your partner disect things, blow things up, create chemical compounds, mess with DNA, make fruitfly babies (gew.) You get the idea. You get your hands dirty. You get a little sweaty. And you REALLY learn.

My editor disected parts of my manuscript and we blew up other parts together. I started recognizing some of my own bad habits as a writer: my word addictions, redundancies, my reliance on metaphors, my odd way of breaking up dialogue and speaker, my obsession with having characters nod instead of say something. I was also forced to confront the weak spots in my plot and/or writing that I'd mentally swept underneath the stronger parts around it. She made me learn how to fight for my manuscript, and, more importantly, what to fight.

Ten minutes ago, I emailed my final line changes to my editor. So few, were they, that she insisted I send a "clean" copy (no mark-up bubbles, red text, etc.) so she could forward it directly to the copy editor. Five weeks, a big overview edit, and three line edits later, my manuscript is finally ready to move forward on this journey. The lessons I learned from my editor thoughout this process will affect the way I write forever. And as I write this little blog diddy, I can't help but wonder if she knows that, if she recognizes her lasting impact.

I knew my editor would change my manuscript. I had no idea she'd change me.


  1. Awwww...I'm teary.... I have no words to reply to something like this. Thank you Jadie. <3

  2. No reply needed! Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate how much devotion you gave my story. I feel like I won the editor lottery :)

  3. This is the kind of post that gives writers hope that there are editors out there who are just as excited to see the very best come out of the manuscript as the writer. And that doing so is hard work that is worthwhile. Very exciting times and more to come, Jadie :-)

  4. Thanks, Angela! I was nervous about jiving with an editor. I have zero formal education other than a random class here or there. i was worried I'd feel like an idiot. But from the get go it was very obvious that my editor GOT my story, and that she saw in me more than I did. So she challenged me to go find it, both in my self and in my story.


Ramble on, y'all.