18 December 2012

On working with an editor

YYAAAAAYY!!! *twirly dance twirly dance twirly dance* It is SO AWESOME to be working with an editor! I love it!

So I've started volunteering for VoiceCatcher, which so far has been a great experience. I've agreed to interview past contributors to the journal--both artists and writers--and write one article per month for the blog based on those interviews. One interview/article per contributor.

My first assignment was to interview and write about Willa Schneberg, who is an amazing person and whose website you really need to check out. Anyway, when I was done with the initial draft of the article on her, it ended up being a little over 1600 words--eek! Obviously too long, but I didn't know what to cut out. Everything I'd written seemed important to me. If I were on my own, I would've had to set it aside for a while or make random guesses about what other people might find less compelling than other bits.

But I didn't have to do that because the President of the Board, Carolyn Martin, agreed to work with me to edit the article. I told her what was important to me to keep and what I was trying to do with it, and she told me which parts she really liked (very important) and made some suggestions about what paragraphs I might cut, how to rephrase parts to make the article more succinct, and copy edits. We passed it back and forth a few times over a couple of days, and eventually we agreed that it was done. After she'd reminded me a few times to put a title on it, that is.

What I really liked about working with Carolyn is that it took a lot of pressure off. Of course I put a lot of effort into that first draft, but I didn't feel like it had to be perfect either. I loved that I didn't have to guess at how someone else might read the article: she provided that outside perspective. I liked that I got to retain autonomy (I got the final say in what stayed/went) but at the same time had someone else partnering with me on the piece. Someone who respected my vision for it and could bring a fresh perspective because they weren't so close. Someone who could suggest different approaches in service of my vision.

I don't know yet whether the work I'm doing with Carolyn will translate into my being able to look at my other writing differently, but it's happened that way in the past, so I have reason to be hopeful.


  1. Very Exciting Sione!
    I can completely relate to how you feel. This is the sole reason I sought you out as an editor on my Manuscript.
    Being a first time author the overwhelming feeling you get when you tackle the editing task is sometimes unbearable and having those extra eyes and ears makes ALL the difference in the world.
    I'm very excited for you, I wanna read the article when it comes out.

    1. Yay! Thanks, Zoey! Yes, having a partner in the process can make a HUGE difference. On one's motivation, among other things. Will def let you know when the article comes out in January.

  2. The words that stuck out to me the most were these:
    The first draft didn't have to be perfect.
    You need to get the ideas on paper, to have somewhere to go. You need to let your characters feel their way through a scene, or in this case, the writer feel her way through her thoughts. You can't edit nothing. I just tweeted to someone who deleted their first draft "zero divided by zero is zero." You need to start somewhere, and not be afraid to end up in a different place than intended, or to get where you want to go but take a different road.
    The other important piece to that is that "revisions" isn't a dirty word. It's a fact of writing life. If you're not willing to listen to others or take a hard look at your writing to make it better, think again. You don't have to take every piece of advice you get as law, but there is always room for improvement. Even when you think you got it absolutely perfect.


    1. Thanks for the comment, Kristen. I agree. Sometimes I find that I'm worried about writing it "wrong" the first time, but better to write something I end up editing the heck out of than not write anything at all and have nothing to work with!

  3. Hi Sione,
    I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award
    You can check the rules here