Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, offers some suggestions to today’s emerging genre authors.
By the time this blog is posted, I will have returned from a trip to Southern California to speak to junior college students at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut (the largest junior college in the country). This is my 5th visit to the campus. I’m to lecture on genre fiction, do a workshop on platform building and take pitch sessions for Oak Tree Press (I’m acquisitions editor).
How did I find myself in the position of educator? Oddly enough, it started because I rejected the creative writing teacher’s mystery. Too literary, I said, give me a few corpses. Instead, he gave me an invitation to speak to the…
Well, I’m back from my vacation, and the past couple days I’ve been thinking about something that I’ve had lengthy conversations about: writers and editors. I know this is a topic a lot of writers may not like. But as I am a writer AND and editor, I know the fine line editors walk with a writer ego (and their baby).
So, writer’s need an editor. But why? A lot of writers are willing to have friends and family proof their work for syntactical errors and grammatical/spelling errors. While useful, this doesn’t particularly serve the writer that well. Do they catch continuity errors? Do they notice that name change on page 114? Or the reference on page 30 that leads no where?
What I’m geting at is this: editors (freelance or otherwise) are trained to read quickly and efficiently and are able to hold almost the entire story in their head at a time (with a good idea at remembering where to find specifics). Editors can catch that your main character character is wearing the same shirt several weeks in a row, or that it changes every scene without being in reach of a change of clothes! Or that your characters are out in the summer sun, when really the time you’ve set up in story is actually late winter.
Editors can make your sentences sing, yes, but they can also serve to ask important questions about your story, like “Why is this scene necessary? What makes it important?” We editors cut mercilessly, point out glaring flaws in narrative, and most of all, we really do want you story to be successful.
Wait, what? It bears repeating. Editors want your story to be successful. We want the best story for you. Really. We don’t really like slashing down and laughing at your work manically in tiny rooms. No, we do want you to succeed. Why? Well, for one, we really like reading, just like you. We like a great story and if we can help make a story great, we sure as hell will try. Editors aren’t out to get you or steal your ideas (well, at least the editors worth their salt). Editors (especially freelance) will help promote your book, because 1) we like it, 2) we helped it become what it is, 3) we think other people should read it and like it as much as we do.
Editors are not the big, bad scary enemy. We are companions on your writing journey. And oftentimes, editors, like myself, are writers as well: we know the solitary struggle, we know the doubt, we know what it is like to write, and we know how important it is to have a great story.
So, if you are a writer, and you’re thinking about going in the self-pub or indie-pub route, hire a freelance editor. You’re probably hiring a cover artist. You may hire someone for formatting your book, you might hire someone to help with your website. In all these things, you will be getting what you pay for. A good editor costs money, just like a good artist, just like a good formatter. And like these other professionals, editor stand by their work, and are willing to work with you.
Yesterday was not a good day. Well, it was up until I decided to ruin it by logging on to the facebook group called the MFA Draft. It’s not really the group’s fault. I wanted to check to see if people had reported hearing from some of the schools that I’m waiting for. It never ends well, does it?
In the pre-application period, the Draft is a nice place to be. I met someone I published from there. It’s good in the beginning. After acceptances and rejections start rolling in? I need to flee and get the hell out. I’ve done this two years in a row. I should know better.
I see a lot of posts of “OMG I can’t decide which school I should accept their letter and go there!” Or “I’ve decided and notified [5 other schools I wanted to go to] that I’m going to [an even better school].” I’ve applied three years in a row, with horrible results up until this year (with results being fairly abysmal instead). I’ve been working my writing a lot in the last few years. I write a few times a week if not every single day.
So, I’ve contemplated just giving it all up. Just walking away from everything writing related and just go find something else to go do with my life. (Although I can’t).
I don’t know if I can handle applying to MFA programs again next year. I don’t know if I can do it again. I may apply to a totally different type of program just to see if that helps. Because let’s face it: three years of rejections expecting different results? Scarily sounds like insanity.
By the time you read this, I will have landed in Seattle for a week-long, very much needed vacation. I will hopefully forget this entire episode of depression/anger and go have fun. Or something.
And also in addition to the professional crisis I currently face, I’m also (as always) undergoing personal crap. Like why I can’t seem to find anyone decent to date who wants to date me back. But that’s whining for another day, right? It’s too bad all the gorgeous guys that think I’m hot live in the UK or Australia. Or otherwise known as not within meeting distance. Oh well. I’m sure I’ll survive. If I dont …?
It’s been a rough couple weeks. Slowly, more schools are updating me on progress—still no full acceptances. Also there has been a great disturbance in my home life, which has thrown me off. Things are almost back to normal, but it may be a long time until they are.
Thankfully, next week I will be going to Seattle for a week. I so need a vacation. Need to get the hell out for some r&r. Should be a nice change of pace. I leave on my normal blog post day (so I may have one post that day).
I am writing again and finding inspiration, which is nice. I’m enjoying what I am doing. Now if I could just get out the old poetry pen and start…
Hope you are all having good weeks. Sorry for the scattered randomness today.