Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Editing myself, editing others

It's really odd to turn from rewriting my own work to editing the work of someone else.

But that cognitive dissonance is where I'm living this week.  This week, I'm revising a novel I just finished. I'm looking at my own words and trying to make them clearer. The plot, the characters, the setting . . . I want every bit of this story to be compelling. I want it to pull the reader forward, to entice, to delight.

Basically, I want to make it very, very easy for the reader to keep on reading. If I do my job well, the reader won't even know I was there. She'll just know she read a great book.

And then, after an hour or two of revising my own stuff, I turn to my editing job: right now I'm reviewing and editing essays submitted for this collection.

All of the essays are heartfelt and moving. The writers' openness, honesty, and courage overwhelm me. These essays are all beautiful.

That's my reaction as a person, anyway.

But as an editor, some of them are a delight for a different reason. They're a delight because they make my job easy.

Some of the essays just read so smoothly and clearly that I look at them and think, "I have hardly anything to do here. This reads beautifully just as it is."

And then, then . . . then I realize what I'm aiming for as I revise my own work.

I want to make my editor smile. I want to make her think, "I have hardly anything to do here."*

Now I know.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*Now that's a lie. Just a bit. I've never read anything, as an editor, that I thought I couldn't improve. And if I ever got anything back from an editor without notes, I think I'd keel over in a dead faint. But . . . there's notes and there's notes, you know?  You know. :)

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