Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Gift of Gratitude

At this time of year, we often contemplate gifts of the harvest—whether they come from the garden, grocery store, or perhaps a job after a long period of unemployment. Economic difficulties may make gifts more difficult to recognize, or they sometimes make them more apparent. When we look at what we really need to survive, we learn to appreciate the value of gifts.

Translate that into the writing and editing business—often a feast or famine industry, with famine outweighing the feast. What is there to be grateful for in this arrangement? As an editor, I can think of several gifts that have kept me going when economic hard times make writers think twice about spending their precious dollars on editing.

Authors can be a trying lot. (I’m sure they think the same about editors.) However, the vast majority of the ones I’ve worked with appreciate my efforts in their behalf and say repeatedly how much they’ve learned from working with me. And they come back with their next books. For these I am grateful because their cooperative spirits and genuine gratitude make my job easier and more rewarding.

Fellow editors often are not the competition, but rather comrades in arms as we wage war against not only poorly written books, but also against the stain of mediocrity. Every writer deserves to have a well-written book, and every editor here on BRP—including our guests—strives to make that happen. And we support one another. For these editors I am grateful because editing can be a lonely job, and few besides them understand the extra (unpaid) hours that transform a needy manuscript into an excellent book.

Manuscripts come in all sizes and conditions.
We freelance editors often find that our writers' works challenge our skill and ingenuity. Those of us who work for small publishers also may find the diamonds we receive in manuscript form to still be lumps of coal. The work that comes to us most often has not been accepted by an agent or publisher—and most often would not be. Yet for these I am grateful because such manuscripts put food on my table as well as, potentially, the tables of their writers once my work has been completed.

Opportunity doesn’t always knock on the front door. Sometimes it slips in through a back window to surprise us with unexpected gifts. More than once, writers who came to me as strangers seeking editing services stayed to become treasured friends. For this opportunity to make new friends I am grateful because they are kindred spirits of a special kind.

Looking back, would I want a different job? Absolutely not! I am so grateful to have a small share in developing literary works of art. Creativity in all forms can be priceless. To help another grow into his or her creative gift is the most rewarding job I can imagine.


Linda Lane writes, edits, and teaches writers to write more effectively. Visit her at http://www.denvereditor.com/.

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  1. Waging war against "the stain of mediocrity"--love that, Linda! I knew we were soul sisters.

  2. Yes, we are, Kathryn! I've known since I visited your Web site that we live, breathe, and work on the same page (pun intended).


  3. '...the stain of mediocrity..." hmmm, where have I seen that? Oh, yeah, here on my shirt. Dang.

  4. I'm grateful for all the friends I've made since I went into the writing arena. Everyone is very supportive.

    Morgan Mandel

  5. A wonderful post, Linda. I felt like you were speaking for all editors!

  6. Amen to everything you've said. I've made some great friends, blog buddies and facebook friends while writing. I'm grateful for them all.

  7. Christopher, I'm thankful for the way you always make me chuckle when you comment.

    Linda, wonderful post, and I, too am thankful for the fact that clients have become friends. This collaborative effort between writer and editor can either lead to a long-standing relationship or divorce court. LOL

  8. Morgan, we writers are a creative lot - even those of us who also edit - and we have a common bond. The friendships we develop can be long and wonderful.

    Or - as Maryann noted - they can end up in divorce court. Fortunately, this hasn't happened often in my case.

    Helen, I feel a strong kinship with fellow editors. We understand the challenges and the blessings of our unique profession as we help the works of others to shine.

    Martin, gaining friends in places we will likely never visit is a delightful benefit of writing (and editing).

    Christopher, your ability to look on the lighter side almost always brings a smile.

  9. Blogs are so interactive where we get lots of informative on any topics...... nice job keep it up !!


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice.