Yes, when an editor authors her own works, she must be edited too. And that’s where I sit today: going through the editing process with my first memoir.
As an editor, I must admit that having someone look at my writing as opposed to being evaluated for how I’ve assisted an author with theirs is a very different experience, one in which I feel extremely vulnerable.
Not all editors author works of their own. Those of us who do, have, in my opinion, a significant responsibility and obligation to the craft: to do our very best to bring into the world works that offer the reader a full and satisfying read. My deepest desire is to craft a memoir that will allow readers to relate to and be inspired by my experiences. The editor’s job is to help me do just that!
HOW TO CHOOSE?
The first task was to choose my editor. Just as I recommend to authors, I needed to determine who might be best fitted for my personality, temperament, genre, and story. Someone who not only understands memoir, but appreciates my need to craft a story about my actual experience as well as the underlying spiritual growth and personal transformation I went through.
I knew at least two amazing, qualified editors who would be able to guide me in strengthening my story. Ultimately, I decided to use my male counterpart. Although he is not my target audience, I wanted to work with someone who would be able to connect with the heart of my story and take in my experience from a completely different vantage point.
Although I know how we editors do our job to assist authors with their writing and do our best to provide a safe, non-threatening, fulfilling experience throughout the process, when I got ready to hand over my manuscript to my editor, I stopped myself.
Fear took over, which led me down a path of reading, rereading, and refining what I’d written. I continued to make revisions in order to hand over the best unedited manuscript I could. It was a great stall tactic that brought out the perfectionist in me in full vivid color. I tried to ensure that his first impression of my writing would be a great one—what pressure I put on myself!
The day finally came when I knew there was nothing else I could adjust without the help of an objective outsider. It took me another week, though, before I could hit the send button.
Finally, after telling myself it was time to let go of control, I took a deep breath and did it: I pushed send.
Then, I waited. During the time my manuscript was in his queue (a good editor will have a queue one must wait in), I worried about what he would think of my writing. Subsequently, when I knew he was working on my manuscript, I tried to calm the voice of the inner critic. She raised questions like, “Who do you think you are to publish a book? Who will read it? After all this time, what makes you think your story is even relevant? You should stay in the background, helping others with their books.” Those questions and the taunting continued. My inner critic was relentless—she always is when she shows up.
At long last, I heard from my editor. Along with unsolicited praise, he said that my book’s message needs to get out in the world. He is certain it will help others. He then said he wanted to spend more time with my writing voice and my words before he sent the first developmental edit back to me. What validation! I couldn’t have asked for a better update—one that told me he wanted to offer input that would elevate my manuscript even higher.
Today, as I continue to work through the rewrites based on his feedback, I am humbled and grateful. And I am confident that my book will be published in 2021.
I know the editing road ahead will take at least a few more months as we go through two more rounds of editing. But just as I offer to my authors, I am certain his input, as well as the proofreader’s, will be invaluable to my finished manuscript.
As an editor, there is another benefit I’ve discovered from this process. Although I have walked the editing and publishing process with numerous authors—in which I do my best to bring compassion and understanding, as well as a rhythm that ultimately takes us to the finish line—being able to go through this process myself will be invaluable to my future work to support others.
It’s true that I’ve understood the author’s experience, but now I’m living it.
Birthing a book takes dedication and patience to see it through, and I am forever grateful to have the opportunity to experience this journey for myself.