Working with Meghan has come at the point in my writing where I thirst for feedback on what is wrong, not what is right.
I still love to hear how awesome my books and writing are, but I love even more when someone confirms my intuition about a section that doesn’t flow, or says “don’t you think this paragraph works better here?” Even when they say “you need to work harder at this, it isn’t up to your standard,” or worse yet, “delete these chapters and write new ones.”
Meghan worries that she’ll bruise my ego with her feedback, but I can say without reservation that I have exulted over her every word. When I am too tired to putz with perfection another second, when I prematurely send her something that may not be my best effort but is the best I can force out of myself at that moment, Meghan does not flog me. She has admitted that occasionally in a particularly difficult section of my work she might calculate and recalculate her billing and wring her hands, but that I balance it with occasional brilliance. Or so she says, because she ain’t a turnip.
I am elated over the revised manuscripts. I am proud of the pieces that have come together.
By the time we met in person, Meghan and I had worked together for three months and were on our fourth book. We had talked about my writing, my grammar, my style, my chapter structure, my capitalization, my naming conventions, my poetry, my sense of humor, and my my my my my so much that I cringed with self-loathing and guilt. Meghan is the foremost authority on all things Pamela, whether she wants to be or not. I call her first to see what I’m going to do next now. So there was no way I would force her through significantly more Pamela, and definitely not through more talk about PAMELA’S BOOKS. We just talked . . . we chatted and became friends.
The verdict, when our short evening ended? I love her online. I love her on the phone. And I loved her even more IRL. It turns out, I love editors. Editors, the goddess creatures able to spin your words into gold, to cut the snakes from Medusa’s head without turning your manuscript to stone, to balance the worlds you create on their backs keeping your dreams bright in the sky. Editors. Wonderful, awesome editors.
Writers, wannabes, dreamers, and all of you who yearn to try the entrepreneurial nontraditional route for your books: don’t shortcut the pain, don’t skip the years of effort, don’t publish just for the sake of publishing.
First, work with critique groups. Choose the most vicious and merciless writing companions. No circle jerks, no ego strokes, just truth. Suffer. Doubt yourself. It’s not in vain, I promise.
When the critiques dwindle into compliments, when you grow sick of the praise, when you know there is work left to do and you are ready to by God do it, go find a good editor.
Go find your Meghan. You’ll be ready for her. You’ll appreciate her. You’ll name your cat after her. And maybe you’ll even end up with books you’ll be proud to publish.
Pamela Fagan Hutchins
What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too? – 2013
Hot Flashes and Half Ironmans: Middle-Aged Endurance Athletics Meets the Hormonally Challenged – 2013
How to Screw Up Your Kids: Blended Families, Blendered Style – 2012
How to Screw Up Your Marriage: Do-Over Tips for First-Time Failures – 2012
Puppalicious and Beyond: Life Outside the Center of the Universe – 2013
The Clark Kent Chronicles: A Mother’s Tale of Life with Her ADHD and Asperger’s Son – 2012