In the image above, there is an empty stage. Given that there are no set pieces or props onstage, one cannot reasonably assume what the production’s status is. I chose that image because it is symbolic of both the beginning and the end of a project. For a set designer, the stage plan is provided in the script and from there, the set is built on that empty stage.
For the writer, it’s a blank page, to be marked on by pen.
Writing is solitary by nature. It takes discipline to sit down and write. And it takes absolute courage to share it with someone else, whether it’s a close friend or family member, or an editor. Even more so when the manuscript is finished and sent off to a publisher. There is no set formula for a best-selling novel. As near as I can tell, it’s a combination of talent and hard work, timing, a publisher willing to take a chance and a good editor.
An editor’s job is to go through your work, pick out the small things (wording, spelling, grammar) and big things (summarizing rather than showing). Any criticism offered is to help make your work the best it can be. In order to grow as a writer, one needs to listen to the editor’s critiques with an open mind and not take it personally. I realize this is not an easy thing to do, but it’s necessary.
How to I listen to my editor? By recognizing that every objection I might have to her suggestions is due to my own ego. If I remove that from the equation (which is not always easy), then I am open to receive the help she is giving me in making my own work the best it can be. If I want my work to be taken seriously, I need to present it as my very best.
The empty stage above is from a production I was involved in last year. I took that photo at the end, when the props and set pieces had been removed. This is pretty much what it looked like in the beginning, coming full circle. So it is with writing – it begins with a blank page and ends with the manuscript in the mail.
And then you turn to a fresh page and start all over.