The only downside to landing your dream job? It eats your life! In fact, I have been so immersed in work that I have neglected my writing shamefully. But now, my wonderful employer has supported me to reorganise my hours to a more writing-friendly schedule … Hey presto, Magic Writing Thursday is born! Awesometown! I’ve edited two and half chapters, and now I even have time to blog.
Last week, I survived a meeting with a team of editors discussing my manuscript. I won the opportunity for this maunscript appraisal through the CAL/Society of Editors mentoring scheme, and it was an honour and a privilege to be chosen. But, imagine this: leading industry professionals view your dearest project, o precious fruit of your imaginings, and then list everything that’s bad about it in a detailed report. The report arrived a couple of weeks ago, when I skimmed talk of ‘an enjoyable, fast-paced narrative’ and got straight to the comments that would keep me awake at night.
Then I plunged headfirst into a deep slump of what my writing buddies have termed ‘my-book-sucks syndrome’.
However, the opportunity to meet with the editors snapped me out of the slump, and made the whole appraisal process intensely valuable: I sat with Craig and Marlies for an incredible hour and a half of deep discussion about Pregnant Pursuit, and gained insight into the rationale behind their comments.It was especially amazing to hear Craig Munro’s stories from when he was editing Johnno. I felt a part of the incredible literary community in Brisbane, even if just for a day.
Since then, I have approached the task of editing with more clarity and determination. I am clearer about what needs doing, and how to do it. Swallowing my pride, keeping an open mind, and following things through has helped me to trust the process of addressing critical feedback to strengthen my work.
The surprising thing in studying the craft of writing is not that I must continually improve my facility with words, and develop an effective balance between creativity and competence. It is that I must become a better person – more resilient, persistent, and humble. As a writer, I must scrutinize my character and experience for strengths, weaknesses, flaws and gifts; I must know these well and work with them wisely.
Overwhelmingly, as a result of the manuscript appraisal, I am left with a deep sense of gratitude – not just for a more mature manuscript, but for an opportunity to work with people who treated my story with respect and care, and showed infinite patience in helping me honour my craft.