Monday, November 7, 2011

What I learned about being a writer from being an editor...

I've been a writer much longer than I've been an editor. I've been writing since I could pick up a crayon and form words. Editing, I've only been doing for a short while (in the grand scheme of things). But I've learned a lot about being a writer from my work as an editor.

Oh, of course I've learned the basic things you would expect, I edit my own work far more critically now than I ever did before. I'm extra careful to look for repetitive words, grammar errors and verb tense confusion. Oh and speech tags! Let's not forget those pesky speech tags. But beyond the expected benefits of honing my skills via editing others, I've learned to take rejection far less painfully.

I had been told (in pep talk format) that you couldn't take rejection personally. But, and I know you're all nodding your heads, that's far easier said than done. I was told that sometimes a story just didn't fit the publisher's needs. Or maybe they had other similiar stories. I never believed what I was told and imagined the editors I had submitted to as harsh, souless characters who only wanted stories from successful (ie: published) writers.

Then, enter my joining the ranks of "editor". I am not a harsh souless character who only wants published authors. Don't get me wrong, I won't turn down a published author, provided the story is good. See, that's the thing, I'm looking for good stories, regardless of the author. I read every submission that comes to us. Some we accept, some I have to turn down.

And obviously, if the story is too reminiscient of another story I've read, if it just isn't good, if its going to take far too much editing, or the writing is well, bad; I'm going to have to reject it. But what they say is absolutely true. Sometimes, no matter how great I think a story is, it just doesn't fit with anything we're publishing at that time. And sometimes, we receive two stories with the same plot lines. I have to take the best one and regardless of how well written the other one is- it gets passed over. And sometimes? It just doesn't grab me. It might be a well written piece, I just don't feel it. Editing is subjective and just because I don't like it, doesn't mean another editor won't snap it up.

And so, recently when I received a pass on a story I'd submitted to an anthology, I shrugged. Yep, shrugged. I found myself completely okay with the rejection. I know that I'll find a home for that story someday. Today, this anthology, just wasn't the right place or time. And that's ok.

So when you receive those inevitable (we all get them) rejection letters, try not to take it so personally. If the editor has been kind enough to send a personal letter and any recommendations, pay attention, they are doing you a favor. And believe the reasons they give you for their rejection. We don't make this shit up.

Happy submitting,

PS- for the love of Bob, read submission guidelines. Nothing irritates me more than to receive a submission that makes it clear the sender did NOT read my guidelines. Its incredibly rude and will not endear you to me.


Blaze McRob said...

You are a wonderful writer and a great Editor. Two hats to wear. Not an easy job. I could not do it. That's why I'm so lucky to have you. For both roles. Thank you for popping into my life and my family, Stacey.

I totally agree with your ideas on not getting upset by a rejection letter. It happens, for many different reasons, some out of our control and not having anything to do with the fact the story might just be great, but it doesn't fit what the publisher is looking for.

Great post!


Cindy Keen Reynders said...

Stacey, stop by my blog and collect your Versatile Blogger award that I handed out to you today!!!

Spot said...

Blaze~ thank you for the compliments! I try to be at both, sometimes I even succeed. Lol. It took a long time to toughen that resolve, but I may have finally done it.

Cindy~ I sure will! Thanks!