Just like you, I’ve been enamored of words and story for as long as I can remember, thanks in part to my grandmother. A teacher of English, Latin, and mythology, Ruby didn’t leave her lessons in her high school classroom. Every Christmas and birthday was sure to include a beautiful gilt-edged classic, made personal her heartfelt inscriptions inside the cover. Thanks to her faithful gifts, I was well-versed in the language of story long before I realized it was the driving force behind the way we interpret the world.
My exposure to editing began with a little innocent experimentation in writing. In both face-to-face workshops and online communities, I gained a reputation for being able to tighten a poem or guide a story to its best conclusion—a reputation that felt, at first, like an insult. I wanted to be known as a writer. While I was happy to help other people produce their best, I had no desire to be a critic. After several years I realized that—while I do write—what I really love to do, and what I do best, is help others fulfill their creative endeavors.
Ten years into my formal editing experience, I found myself frustrated with the business of editing. I found it difficult to help authors create their best work without substantive editing, excessive rewrites, and many costly passes through their manuscripts. In describing my frustration to a friend, I stumbled onto a great metaphor.
Traditional editing makes as much sense as waiting for your baby to be born before ever seeing a medical professional.
Plenty of babies are born apart from the influence of modern medicine. Cultures all over the world rely on the collective wisdom of their midwives to help moms deliver healthy babies and give them the support they need along the way.
Stories work the same way.
What if an author could begin her writing process with the support and guidance—as much or as little as she likes—of her editor? If a struggling creative could talk through his writer’s block with an unbiased friend, one who could offer sincere, constructive feedback, how much more likely would he be to actually complete a manuscript he’s really pleased with? Like taking an African Safari or hiking the Adirondacks, writing a book is probably on your Bucket List. What if you could take that journey with a knowledgeable guide?
What if, instead of a midwife, you had a bookwife?
So how does it work?