Don’t Shoot The Editor

Day 12 of Vicki Ableson’s 5 Minute 30 Day Writing Challenge….

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Does editing count as writing?  No?  That’s okay… I’ll get my time in writing this blog post.

A story I submitted for an anthology has been sent back with the editor’s revisions and‘suggestions’.   I believe the next part is called ‘a meeting of the minds’, also known as compromise… give and take.

I get a little thrill now when an editor sends a piece back.  I didn’t use to.  It took some effort not to take personally what I saw as an ‘attack’ on my ‘baby’.  How dare they suggest I make these changes!  I put my blood (does a paper cut count as ‘blood’?), sweat and tears into this story!  I poured my soul into it!

My first instinct back then was to make a voodoo doll of said editor and poke a few well-placed pins into it.  Mothers can be fiercely protective of their young and I was less than thrilled that some complete stranger thought they knew better how my story should be written.

Of course, that was completely irrational… as was pointed out to me by my inamorata… more than once.  Don’t you hate that your spouse or partner can be so calm when your whole world is crumbling around you… their calm ‘voice of reason’ coaxing you to put the Yellow Pages (bookmarked in the “V’s”) down.  Their not-so-calm warning to leave the bottle of Stoli in the cupboard – “Veronica!  It’s ten in the morning… put the booze away!”

I have learned that editors want only to make my story the best it can be and that shorter sentences can say the same thing and have the same impact as great, long, paragraph-size sentences, peppered with commas, semicolons, ellipses and dashes.  Wow!  How did I find room for all those adjectives with all that punctuation fighting for room on the page?

When they tell you that you are dangling too many participles… listen to them.  When they tell you not to use so many semicolons… listen to them.  When they mention that perhaps you should use a dash instead of all those ellipses… listen to them. (well, okay… I’m still working on that one).  Do not retort “That’s how my English teacher taught me!”  Editors don’t really give a rip how your English teach taught you and they could care even less that your English teacher was a Catholic nun.  In fact, the mere mention of ‘Catholic nun’ (think wooden ruler across the knuckles) could very well bring to surface some long-forgotten childhood trauma and the next thing you know, you’ve sent your editor running for the liquor cupboard.

So, as I develop a style – in noir, if you don’t have a style, no one is going to read you – and find my voice, I know that there are editors out there who will help me, offering encouragement and support, because they believe in me and want me to be the best writer I can be.  Also, it reflects badly on them if they publish shite.  We depend on each other, writers and editors.  It’s a symbiotic relationship; neither can survive without the other.

In other words… don’t shoot the editor.  They didn’t write that mess; they’re just trying to help you clean it up.  Why?  Because they saw a little grain of sand with potential.

From the girl who never met a comma she didn’t like, and used adjectives like every day was BOGO at the adjective store, I want to thank all those editors out there who ignored my‘snark’ back in my early days and helped me turn those grains of sand into little pearls…

Thank you!

And a special ‘thank you’ to Darren Sant and Craig Douglas of Near 2 The Knuckle, for their tireless efforts in putting together their new anthology, Gloves Off.  I am thrilled to have my story accepted.  Thank you for your suggestions, and especially for your patience.  It is an honour to appear alongside the extremely talented collection of writers you have gathered for this anthology.

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

22 March 2013

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