Two weeks ago I submitted my first full-length novel, Pieces of You, to the Senior Acquisitions Editor of a publishing company. Now I wait impatiently, hoping my experience will be different from the majority of unknown writers. What I submitted was my fourth draft, two full revisions completed after attending a major writers’ conference last September (at the suggestion of one of my favorite authors, Davis Bunn). After retracing every line on every page of my manuscript, I tried to make myself believe I was ready to submit. Before taking that leap, though, I joined a LinkedIn group, LinkEds & Writers. At least eight very thoughtful, highly professional responses to my first question on how to show instead of tell let me know I was not yet ready.
An angel rescued me, one of the eight respondents, offering to edit my third draft at a very affordable rate. This female angel knew just how to help me; she didn’t rewrite my story, didn’t suggest an extreme makeover, did gently crown me the And and But queen (sentence starters), and did help me help myself with articles from her considerable inventory. You may not be as fortunate!
What recourse do writers have when desperately needing a trained eye to spot errors, but with that eye attached to heart attuned to fragile self-images? Oh, and understanding that money is a very big object!
A possible answer came to me after this week’s book discussion on Anna Quindlen’s “How Reading Changed my Life.” Quindlen suggests that those of us who read and re-read favorite books (which include most of the books we touch) are writers. She writes, “The words became our friends and our companions.” (1998, p. 52) I’m going to assume her theory is correct because it opens doors to a throng of would-be teachers and editors. Now I’m not suggesting that all readers be expected to willingly offer their knowledge of writing to any author needing a second (or third or fourth) opinion.
Since I am one of those people who find my best friends and greatest adventures in reading but with barely enough time to focus on my own writing, I propose to help other authors by discovering in my reading—novels especially—what causes words to transform me into a participant in a story and not just a bystander. I just finished Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” so I will start there…but not today.
I hope that others will find this idea appealing and join me in sharing what we discover about writing while reading. The challenge is extricating ourselves from living in the story long enough to observe WHY and HOW we got there. In “The Lost Symbol” I joined the other characters in a desperate search for clues leading to the location of the lost word; now I have to figure out how I got inside those pages…