“Through joy and through sorrow, I wrote. Through hunger and through thirst, I wrote. Through good report and through ill report, I wrote. Through sunshine and through moonshine, I wrote. What I wrote it is unnecessary to say.” ~ Edgar A. Poe
My friends and family often scold me for not letting them read my writing. I talk about my processes and complain about carpal tunnel. I’ll prattle on excitedly when my work is peer-recognized. But I don’t tell or show them what I’ve written. “What I wrote is unnecessary to say,” I say.
Let’s face it, sharing our work with anyone can make us feel vulnerable. Why don’t I give my work to friends or family for proofreading or editing, let alone enjoyment? First, uncertainty – would they know how to edit? Or would they simply be giving opinion? Second, suspicion – any opinion will be based, albeit subconsciously, on my relationship with whichever friend or relative is reading the piece. And finally, fear – people close in a writer’s life will tend to placate to ego for fear of harming feelings, or give commentary that in fact does hurt by intent or mistake.
For most writers, is much easier to give our work to literary peers and mentors. There is no emotional tie to confuse things, the fear of exposure to intimates and familiars is eliminated. In writer workshops and classes it is to be assumed editing suggestions will come from a place of skill and encouragement.
When the next step is to pursue publishing, it’s time to call in the professionals. An agent will create a plan and promote for you. Now you need to make sure your work is pristine. To get a fresh perspective and another set of eyes intent solely on making your work the finest it can be. Good editors will either be excited about your work or will adhere to strict proofreading methods and professionalism. Either way, they will care just as much as you about the end product. It is in an editor’s best interest to do what is in the writer’s best interest. And it should be expected that an editor is being paid to help the author, not to rewrite the work or alter the author’s voice.
So Michelle… do you use an editor? Can we see samples of your work? “What I wrote is unnecessary to say,” I say. “What is important is together we make your work, work for you.”