I’ve mentioned my editor before. Barbara is a stickler for correctness, conciseness, and consistency. A writer needs someone who is merciless when they edit your writing, and that person, for me, is Barbara. We met at a UW-Madison Writers’ Institute where she impressed me with her genuine love of writing and her acceptance of me as a new and unproven author.
Remember when your English teacher handed back some first draft you’d slaved over, the paper smattered with red pen notes and words (sentences, paragraphs, pages?) were called into question? It could be discouraging, and sometimes encouraging, but it usually meant what you envisioned as perfect was not, and it needed more work. I admit it. I was one of those ruthless English teachers who didn’t skimp on the red ink for any writer. No piece of writing, no matter how good, could escape my innate need to make corrections and comments.
Times have changed. There is phenomenal software allowing for a much smoother, albeit, much sneakier, method for the editing process. Manuscripts are sent to your editor as a digital document and are returned to you with highlighted words (or sentences, paragraphs, etc.). This is where the deception begins. Clicking on whatever is highlighted brings up the editor’s explanation and suggestion for correcting or improving what was written. In other words, what looks like a one-word edit on your page can become a full-paragraph (or more) for the writer to consider doing. It all looks so innocent at first glance, and when I first scroll through the edited manuscript Barbara returns to me, I’m thinking, “This isn’t too bad. A few minor changes here and there. Should be easy enough to finish in a day or two.” Pat on the back!
Wrong! Nothing, at least nothing I write, is that good the first time around. Days and even weeks or months later, things are still being rewritten, edited, and rewritten. Sometimes, the process is maddening and exhausting, but the end result is proof Barbara was right. Thank you, Barbara, for your patience and awesomeness.