I am an editor who teaches with comments on everything I edit because I love the feeling I get when I see a writer grow.
I finished working on edits for a client today. She’s been coming for weeks with short stories, and I’ve been adding in reasons for edits and she’s been taking the advice.
She sent me a new story this week and, bam, so good! She’s had a great handle on compelling characters and even making “trope” situations feel genuine and organic. This story, however, is her best to date. She’s grown as a writer, more aware of the when/where of necessary details and when to let show happen and not tell.
I couldn’t be happier for her or, frankly, for myself. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to look back and see a road of progress behind you as you hold something that is the reason you got into this whole writing thing in the first place: the chance to tell a rich, wonderful story with characters people will care about.
Personally, I’ve realized this too. While I have been writing on my own projects, I’ve also spent the last couple weeks reviewing some very old stories (written 15+ years ago) of my own and noticing the growth that I too have experienced over 20 years of writing. I made improvements to those stories too before reposting them, adding author’s notes to remind myself just how far I’ve come.
Conversely, I’ve recently come across another writer who is atrocious in her online writing. She claims to have a dozen published books, uses an “in-between publisher” who just cleans up her work, publishes for her, but she keeps all the proceeds. I haven’t had the desire to buy a book because that feels so lackadaisical, I can’t imagine this publisher is editing very well — certainly they’d want some compensation for doing so much work to make this person’s writing readable. If they’re not doing the work, then essentially her raw drafts are being published, and if her online writing samples are any indication, the published books are terrible.
If I bought a book, I’d feel compelled to write a review, and well, I’m afraid I might not have anything nice to say. So I skip the entire process and don’t buy.
Bottom line: If all you do is write and leave the editing to someone else, accept or reject the changes without really understanding why these things needed correction, are you really becoming a better writer? Or is your editor doing all the hard work of making you readable? If they are working that hard at helping you, why aren’t you more interested in compensating them, learning from them, and becoming a better writer?
Guess this turned into a Thursday ramble. Have a great day, everyone, and keep on learning as writers.
One thought on “when writers grow”
You’ve changed my writing for the better every time we get together, so thank you for that.
I can think of a few writers who fit your description, and I have learned something from them too.
What not to do.
Great post, Lara!
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