That Moment You Realize You Need An Editor

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Not long ago, I wrote about how I took a little break from the grind of novel writing, (see The Not-So-Dry Spell). It’s funny how talking about a break instantly leads to a strong desire to jump right back into to fray. All it takes is one person to come around and ask, “What ever happened to you novel?”

Hmmm. That’s a good question. Part of my little break was rooted in needing to clear my head, but there was also an element of the “now what” syndrome. I’d sent out a round of query packages and got responses from all of them. Sure, they were all rejections, but as most writers know a response of any kind is a victory.

I was proud of my tiny accomplishment, but I also realized I had an issue that wasn’t easily solved. The fact that I got responses from agents told me I had a good concept for my novel, but the rejection element told me I had more work to do. The problem was I had gone as far I could on my own. I was too close to the work and I couldn’t see past what was going on inside my head. It’s in that moment that a writer has a major epiphany:

I need an editor.

After doing a little research online, I gathered a nice collection on editors who offered various services including proofreading and developmental edits. There are a lot of great editors out there, but it’s almost impossible to figure out who would be the right person for the job. Trying to find a YA fantasy editor is a little bit like trying to find one particular grain of salt in a salt mine.

Then, there’s the issue of price. Editors are not cheap and I totally understand why. Combing through a writer’s passion project is no easy task! Given my limited means, I couldn’t afford most of services I needed, so I decided to try something else.

If you follow my Facebook Author Page, you might have noticed a post where I made my plea:

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 5.14.45 PM To my great surprise someone answered me! What’s more, I knew her! And she loves YA Fantasy! It turns out one of my first blog followers does editing on the side. I was familiar with her work as one of her jobs was sitting on my bookshelf. She had done some editing work for another blogging friend and novelist, Bonnie J. James, so I knew I could trust her. Plus, I’ve had a number of interactions with her over the last few years, all of which have been incredibly positive and friendly.

Within a day I had an editor at a very reasonable price. Who knew it could be that easy? Of course, the hard part is on the horizon. Ever since I sent off the manuscript, my emotions have been all over the place. I go into fits of excitement, fear, terror, doubt, and then excitement all over again.

Even after four drafts, the journey continues. A fresh pair of eyes will hopefully help usher The Muse to next level. I’m anticipating a “bleeding” manuscript, but I have plenty of enthusiasm to stitch it back together.

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p.s. Kristen, I hope it isn’t a horrific task to dig through my manuscript! Can’t wait to see your insights.

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c.b.w. 2014

Guest Blogger: Bonnie J. James

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Today, I’m thrilled to host a blog post from Bonnie J. James. Her creativity and positive energy has inspired me on countless occasions. Recently, she completed and published her first novel, Just Breathe. I am so excited for her and I love seeing her book on my shelf.

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I’d like to say a quick Thank You to C.B. for letting me be a guest on her blog today.  C.B. has been an inspiration to me for years and I’m very honored to be here!

Hello everyone!  My name is Bonnie J. James and I am a writer.

It has taken me quite a few years to introduce myself like this.  I’ve used all sorts of other titles with ease, such as stay-at-home mom, teacher, secretary, and student.  Even last year when I was in the middle of writing a novel, I would offer a title like homemaker or volunteer.  Never, ever would I tell someone that I was a writer!

Why?  Because then I’d have to explain what I’d written!  Which was, well, a half of a manuscript.  (Plus a completed novel that was really good practice but something I knew I’d never want to show anyone).  Plus all of my blogging and journaling and… and… and.  You get it.  Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about – you feel it first-hand.

Like some of you, I’ve always loved to write.  It’s a part of who I am.  But I never felt like I had a right to give myself the title of “writer” until I had actually published something.  (This is all nonsense, I hope you know.  If you love to write, then you are a writer!) For quite a few years I wondered if I couldn’t just try to make this passion of mine into a career.  But what a scary thought!

I sat on this idea for a long time.  There were lots of excuses why I couldn’t be a writer – not enough time, I already had a job, my family was priority… the list goes on.  There were also the endless digs from my inner critic, including “you don’t write well enough, you aren’t smart enough, there are so many others way more talented than you…” Sound familiar?  But in the summer of 2011, an even stronger thought settled into my mind and heart and it wouldn’t go away.  It whispered to me over and over…   If you never try, you’ll never know.   And at the same time, I came across this quote from Kelly Rae Roberts:

“Pretend until you’re no longer pretending.”

As writers, we are very good at pretending.  When we write fiction we create entire stories and new worlds based on this.  We can sit for hours in our make-believe land, talking with our made-up characters.  It’s a happy place for us!  So couldn’t I just try to pretend I was a writer, just to see what would happen?

When I decided to give it a go, it actually became quite fun!  I dreamed up my perfect writing life.  What would my typical writing day and schedule be like?  When would I write, when would I network, when would I market my books?  How would I balance my writing life with my busy family life, where would I travel for research?  How would I feel when I saw my book in the library and bookstore?  What story would I write next, what book would I release after that?  The pretending was so fun that I would get blissfully lost in it!

And you guys, what still amazes me today is that while I was dreaming and pretending, I was steadily working toward the dreams.  I was motivated and excited, and somewhere along the way the lines of what was pretend and what was real began to blur.  Suddenly I found myself doing what I had only been dreaming of before.  I had a writing schedule.  I finished my novel.  I found an editor.  I found a publisher!  Was this really happening?  I found my books in the library, on Amazon, on bookstore shelves, and wow the feeling was even better than I’d imagined!  It truly unfolded in front of me when I had the guts to believe that dreams can come true.  I am so very grateful to the me from a few years ago, the me that decided to just pretend, just imagine, just try.

What about you?  Are you ready to pretend?  To dream?  To try?  Perhaps you’re already doing this – and isn’t it fun?!  And if you’re not, why not give it a whirl?  Let yourself dream it, feel it, believe it.  Pretend until you’re no longer pretending.   I promise you’ll be so glad that you did.

Bonnie J. James is a writer, an artist, a wife and mother.  Her debut novel, Just Breathe, was released in September and is available through your favorite bookseller.  Currently, Bonnie is “pretending” her way through a new career as an author and is working on her second book, coming in 2013.  Visit bonniejjames.com for book information and to visit her blog.