What topic presented itself with this abundance of words?
Care. The care to become a better writer.
For the last 12 or so years, I've edited hundreds of books, short stories, essays, etc. Only a handful, less than 10, have made me want to run for the hills and give up the editing profession. I mentioned this in passing to someone recently, and the person was surprised that the latter number was so low. Thinking about it at the time, I have to admit I was surprised by the number, too. Then I thought about it.
How I present myself as an editor goes a long way in determining the type of clients I will receive. I am an educator. I teach. In everything I do, I teach—to include editing. My main goal as an editor is always to have a return client whose next work is better because of what was learned in the initial experience. Growth. That matters to me, potential clients realize this, and so those writers wanting to learn, who care about becoming better writers, are the ones who often contact me.
Now, what does that previous paragraph have to do with the low number of run-for-the-hills books?
The care to become a better writer can shine through a book that needs work. That care can make a reader (even if that reader is an editor) see the good things of that work despite the issues that need to be fixed.
I have had people tell me explicitly that they had no goal to become a better writer. They wanted all the work done for them, and even if there were to be another book, again, they wanted someone to handle making the writing sing on the page. More often than not, the stories that made me want to run for the hills were the stories written by people who didn’t care to become better writers. They didn’t care about the craft and the work that comes with developing a story that, even in draft form, shows what it could become in revisions.
Someone could easily argue that fresh-faced new writers probably don’t know enough to develop a “could be really good with some revision” draft. However, I would argue that there is a plethora of information and resources freely available to writers today online (like this very blog). People who want to take their writing seriously can help themselves by using these tools to outline and prepare for the writing to come, to write their first draft, and to do some self-editing prior to submitting their work for a professional edit.
That care, even if it’s just seen in short sparks throughout a work, matters. When there is care for the writing, the story, and the development of self as writer, that care is going to show in the end product, no matter how much work is needed for it to be polished. In addition, it will make others, like editors, more eager to want to see that work revised, rewritten so that the good stuff in it shines throughout the work.
Shon Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. Her second mystery, Into the Web, was released April 2012. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, writing, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.