Tag Archive for collaboration

How A Good Editor Works

At a crucial juncture after the climactic scene when the subplot needed attention, his novel went in an unexpected direction.  As his editor, I suggested removing the newly-introduced subplot to naturally steer the protagonist to the crucial needs of the woman he loved, the only issue to be addressed for final resolution.  The author read my notes and heard my rationale, yet remained skeptical.

Weeks later during revisions, we chatted about a software challenge, and he brought up his continued attachment to the new subplot.  I further explained my emotional reaction and logical reasoning.  He stated his case from a different angle, and I could tell that it was not only important to him but also to the future of a brewing sequel.

red.100 - goodI felt an idea rise like a jolt of electricity, flashing up my spine to the top of my head.  I shared the basic premise of how the setup of the subplot could be incorporated earlier.  He responded encouragingly.  I shared the entire brainstorm.  He added his creativity to it, and the issue was suddenly a beautiful turning point, one that solved another plot issue too.

Delighted, we laughed, and then he said, “Maybe I’m naïve, but I’ve got to ask:  Is this the way a normal editor works?”

“In my opinion, yes.  A good one anyway.”

I explained good editors work differently.  After acknowledging my client’s work with editors on his other books—usually without contact beyond rote emails and corrections in the text, many of which were computer-generated—I shared about those who inspired me to do the work I’ve chosen to do.

I remembered when my high school English teacher made me editor of the yearbook.  I said, “But I don’t know how to do that,” and he confirmed, “Sure you do.  You’ll be great!”  And that was that.  I knew I could trust him for guidance.

In addition to new skills, he taught me a good editor has a fearlessness to encourage creativity’s experimentation and bold ideas in collaboration. My teacher recognized and affirmed the good, then build upon it.

Among college professors and editors for print media, corporate communications, and theatrical productions, my greatest mentor was a magazine editor who was clear in direction before I began my work and supportive in the process through revision.  Once she took her turn with my copy as she readied it for print, I was hard pressed to find her changes.

She taught me to build relationship on clear vision to encourage writers and to hone my editorial skills to enhance the writing, elevating both the writer’s voice and the final product’s intended message.

The best editing isn’t a one-way street where some unseen person puts their mark on a writer’s work.  From both editors and clients I’ve worked with, I’ve learned it’s imperative to have a friendly relationship with both the writing and the writer.  Don’t turn the process competitive or argumentative with ego.  The union of writer and editor is collaborative with clear communication, keen listening, and openness to discovery and growth.  Yes, editing is a science in the sense of the rules and formats to follow, but it’s also creative.

To the writer on the phone, I added, “This is how I work.  It works well for me and for many others too.”

He agreed, parting with the promise of a quick return of the revisions and a commitment to begin work on his next book while I edited the current one.

Creative Coaching and Editing

Client Success: Lynne Barfield Byrd’s memoir “The Sweetness and The Pits”

Lynne.Barfield.Byrd.The.Sweetness.And.The.Pits_Front“Well, I am a bucket-list kind of girl,” said Lynne Barfield Byrd, 76, who with motivation of said list has earned three advanced degrees including a Masters in Historic Preservation, ran the Peachtree Road Race at age 67, performed in stage musicals, and traveled to England, France and Italy. “Writing my memoir was on my bucket list to complete by September of 2015, and by golly, I did it! I feel wonderful!”

The Sweetness and The Pits: Remembrances of a Georgia Peach chronicles her life through childhood, careers, and relationships with family, friends and community in her native Atlanta. Lynne has lived in Morningside, Virginia Highlands, Sandy Springs, and Doraville before making Dunwoody her home for the last 43 years. After graduating from Grady High, she attended the University of Georgia, Georgia Perimeter College, and Georgia State University.

On Saturday, October 10 from 2-4pm, Lynne will sign books at the Cheek-Spruill House a.k.a. the Dunwoody Farmhouse located at 5455 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, one of the three Dunwoody homes she has placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Her life has had peachy parts, but also some that were the pits. “My first attempt at writing a short memoir left out all of the unpleasant things. I left out a lot! I was surprised at how emotional it was to go back and feel the joy and the sorrow, and actually put it on paper, knowing that I will allow it to be read by strangers.”

After completing a solid draft, Lynne began to work with me after our meeting at the Writer’s Forum at the Dunwoody/Dekalb Library.

“Wayne explained the entire process, and I knew what to expect,” Lynne shared. “He made sure that as he edited, my voice in the book remained clear. Though this and publication, even when discussing thoughts on what might be hurtful to someone when they read my book, Wayne kept the process fun.”

The book has already garnered sales and great word-of-mouth from those in her community circles. It has also spawned new relationships. Lynne.Barfield.Byrd.Author“Yes, it’s like when you are having surgery—all of a sudden every other person has had, or is having, the same! People who want to write are drawn to me because I tried it. I have connected with another first-time author and a would-be first time author, and I can pick their brains and they can pick mine.”

Her best advice is simple: “Enjoy yourself and write, write, write. Maybe it will be a hit, maybe it won’t, but you won’t know unless you write.”

A few days before publication, Lynne was back in the classroom expanding her knowledge and skill with creative writing. This Georgia Peach is proud of her accomplishment, but will continue to add new goals to her bucket list and be motivated to learn and express.

Chart A Course To Write Your Memoir

Like clients Kirby and Jonathan, you can write and publish your memoir.
Consider the Memoir class as getting your feet wet, the Creative Writers Workshop as training, and personal writer’s coaching & editing as the swim toward the finish line.

 

Start Somewhere.

nyad.espncdn.com.1 - CopyDiana Nyad, 64, an American long distance swimmer, became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without using a shark cage in September 2013.  She attempted the 110-mile swim in 1978, then three more times during 2011-2012 without success.  Undaunted, she kept trying.

Some take to writing easily, while others need encouragement.  All could become successful writers.

I’ve seen those who keep dipping their toes rippling the surface ‘thinking’ about writing while others tread water.  These waste mental and physical efforts.  With practice and determination, others jump in to navigate their past and write their memoir.

Get in the Water.

SWIMMING-CUBA-US-NYADOn earlier tries, Nyad was stung by jellyfish, harassed by harsh currents and battered by storms forcing her to quit.  Still, her quest wasn’t over.  She changed tactics, updated equipment, and kept trying.  Obstacles were just lessons to examine and conquer.

Many hindrances can slow writers, but our self-doubts can sink us.  My greatest lesson in how to deal with doubt came from my swimming practice.

Whenever excuses weigh me down, and I really, really don’t want to swim, my motto is ‘get in the water.’  This never fails: I begin with the assurance I can stop whenever I want.  All the negative messages float into my mind like stinging jellyfish or attack my gut like sharks.  I endure and keep swimming.

Interestingly, whatever was blocking me – sinus issues, achey body, ornery mood – improves or dissipates.  Each time, I accomplish my goal of swimming my usual number of laps.

Jump headfirst into your writing.  Enjoy the weightlessness of freedom, the unburdened feeling of writing what comes from your pool of memories.  See what surfaces.

Swim with Friends.

diana-nyad-florida-to-cuba-swimNyad, like any seasoned athlete, dove to mental and emotional depths to acquire physical strength to complete her goal.  She didn’t swim alone; she had community onshore, as well as a boat load of folks for moral support and to watch her back.

In teaching memoir for years, I’ve seen group after group coalesce and support one another to dive deep into consciousness and bring up treasures.

Join the Memoir class, a guided group of no more than six participants. The expedition is more fun, even more enlightening, with others.

Go for the Goal!

nyad.cbsmiami - Copy“I have three messages,” Nyad said on the beach after her historic swim (Associated Press).  “One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”

Compassionate, honest fellow writers are crucial to your success; they want you to win! This happens with every Creative Writers Workshop I’ve led, a group of no more than 4 writers.

As your writing coach, I mentor you to chart your writing’s course and hold you accountable as you move from writing and revising to editing and publishing.

With friends and a dedicated coach on your team, you can more easily write and complete your memoir.

nyad.gmanewstv - Copy
Memoir Class

Creative Writers Workshop

Personal Writer’s Coaching & Editing, by appointment

 
References: Associated Press; Mike Smollins.
Photos:CBS/Miami; ESPN/CDN; GMA News TV; IlPostIt

Creative Camaraderie

communityAfter a two month absence, the fourth member of the Creative Writers Workshop returned, completing the community.  This reunion, a special occasion, had sentiment, tradition and joy.

After checking in on creative issues, writing was reviewed.  One shared a piece developed over the last meetings, fiction prepared to satisfy an invitation for a journal launching on the other side of the world.  Another revisited and revised a memoir about her father, which she’ll honor him with at an upcoming celebration for a milestone birthday.  Another, through a key revision of an early chapter, realized the template for her book, which combines illuminating instruction with memoir.  And the returnee came back blazing with a gut-wrenching true story, another stride toward taking chances in form and content.

Their process clarification, courageous risk-taking, and expansive creativity is fostered through the abundant safety that thrives in this community where trust runs deep.  Each began within the last year with a simple desire and now confidently call themselves ‘writer.’

Is there someone with whom you excitedly share your writing and can’t wait to hear their comments?  Who tells you the truth in a caring, nonjudgmental way while encouraging, honoring and respecting both you and your work?

Part of nurturing your written expression and yourself as a writer is to find those who will do the same.  Encouraging your growth helps them to grow, too.  You both feel this warm connection; you’re in community.

Affirm:  I deserve a community of writers who inspire me and my writing process while allowing me to do the same for them.

Creative Writers Workshop information