An Empty Stage

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.

 

An Editor’s Tale

Earlier this year, in a conversation I had with a potential client, we were discussing the details of what they were expecting from me regarding their manuscript.  When it was indicated that they were planning to self-publish their novel, I asked about the time frame and was startled to hear them say six weeks from our initial consult.  They also indicated that editing was the last thing needed before they went forward with it.

This raised several red flags for me, but I’m only going to take the time to discuss two of them, as they are pertinent to editing.

First, that they wanted to publish it within six weeks of the initial consult.  This makes the editor’s job harder to do.  Why?  Because editing is a process – the editor combs through the manuscript, making notes for the writer to help create a stronger piece.  Then the manuscript is sent back to the writer, who needs to go through and incorporate the notes given.  This process occurs multiple times, until the editor deems it polished and ready to send out.

Creating a tight deadline of six weeks is only setting up everyone involved for failure and that was the second red flag.  This puts stress on the editor, who is working hard to give clear and concise notes on what can be improved.  It also puts stress on the writer, who may begin to feel resentment towards the editor.  This can cause relations between the two to grow tense and unprofessional, a situation that is undesirable.  A deadline is good to have, as long as it is realistic and achievable, but it helps to be flexible.

Going back to my potential client, I was able to convey the problems with this, offered a few suggestions in the meantime and, with respect, had to turn it down.  Will they come back to me later on, with a more reasonable deadline?  Maybe.  I’d like to think so, since I was able to give them something to work with.

In the end, I had to go with being honest and respectful of their work and my time.  I’d rather lose work that way than create a hostile situation where no one wins.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑