Thursday, September 20, 2007

Freelance Editor, Book Doctor, Manuscript Consultant -- What are the Kids Calling it These Days?

One of the awesome clients of my book doctor service posted about the experience on her writing blog. She compares the writing of a first draft with birthing a baby, and the editing of that draft with watching the baby get surgery. I can understand that feeling, but I guess I've always seen writing a draft like birthing, and editing like brushing the kid's hair and straightening its tie.

If it has to be surgery, then let's remember that *we* are the surgeons. We don't have to sit in the waiting room wringing our hands -- we are not *only the* surgeons, we are *the only* surgeons who can possibly perform the operation. We are uniquely qualified, highly specialized surgeons who know every corner of the insides of that kid, and while we do get consultants to tell us where to cut and where to splice, only we can do it.

Surgery is supposed to be kind of exciting. Reportedly, it even makes you feel like a god. Maybe editing can feel that energized too, if we realize we're in control.

Another thing -- not every baby needs surgery -- most babies spring out of the womb fully grown and perfect and healthy. However, every first draft needs surgery. So, you're not alone in that operating room, there are lots of other people going after their drafts with scalpels and clamps flying, biting their lips, refocusing their lights, and hacking away.

Critiquing people's novels is, in some ways, not a hard job. You don't have to haul around buckets or wear a uniform or get up early or go to meetings. However, you do have to stand up and honestly tell people that their books need surgery. Being a good consultant means telling them exactly what tools to use, at what angles to approach, how deep to go, to make what you feel will be a better story. And then you wait in the waiting room, anticipating the results of their labor. :)

1 comment:

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