Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Joy of Editing

Editing. I have always avoided this bogey. Up until recently, editing has filled me with a feeling of doom. Tedious old doom. I suppose I’ve always seen myself as a pioneer. Someone who likes to break new ground and then move on. But since my collection of micro fictions was accepted by my lovely publisher, my view has changed.
My editorial schedule with Unsolicited Press in Oregon spans 18 months. Structured. Dates. Deadlines. And really good communication.  I am currently at the deadline for the copyedit stage.
I look at the manuscript with the professional markups and suggestions and my mouth waters as I imagine a school teacher with a big fat red pen might. It’s a brand new feeling for me. Exciting even. 
Cutting must be done. And I do it with an eagerness that surprises me.
The process makes me think of a sculptor armed with chisels and hatchets before a block of marble straight from the mountain. With beautiful veins running through. A sculptor knows that whatever is carved away makes no difference to the beauty of the stone. That whatever was there to begin with, will still be there. The mountains, the life-giving veins.
And I feel that is the case with my book, ‘While the Kettle Boils, micro fiction’. There are 150 stories in the book written, more or less, weekly from 2016 to 2019. They are being published in the order they were written and, as I read through, I follow my editor’s advice and chop out too may occurrences of certain words — ’so’, for example, I see how I have improved over those three years as the further through the book we go, the fewer edits are required.
Members of my wonderful writing group, Writers Abroad, had already worked their magic on the manuscript before it was ever sent to the publisher, and they know how many oopsies etc. there were then. Writers Abroad is the village that helped raise this book to its feet. Now, with Unsolicited Press, it is getting it to walk forward.
And that is the joy of this editing process. Working with good and talented people who are generous with their time and gracious with their help. For me it is like a treasure hunt now, my loot bag is the markup app, and the further we go, the fewer things drop in the bag.

While the Kettle Boils will be launched in the spring of 2021. I’ve now signed a second contract with Unsolicited Press to publish my collected poems, Of Daisies and Dead Violins, in late 2021. The editorial schedule for the poetry book is already underway and what a joy that is too.


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