Last post, I said I’d delve deeper into why it doesn’t matter where, when, or how you start as a writer.
And I’m going to use my latest gig as an editor to do that.
I started out for this small press as a proofreader, a couple years back. I’d say it was kind of a work-my-way-up situation, but really it wasn’t.
This request caught me as a total surprise, to be honest.
Manager B got a recommendation from Manager A (because I’d proofread for her), to get me on the horn to edit the book that Manager B was working on, because I was familiar with the author’s work—because he wrote both books A and B.
And I had been thinking of asking about proofreading work when the request to edit came in—imagine that. Thinking about salad, and I got a steak.
After a few emails to get details and expectations ironed out (always important to do that—a lot of times “we’ll figure things out” falls short), I was introduced by email to the author. Well, I was carbon-copied into the welcome email the manager gave the author ABOUT me. A few sentences in, I read these words:
“I’d like to introduce you to Ty, he’s our business editor.”
Just like that.
No clawing, no pitching, no awards ceremony necessary.
I didn’t treat it as a title—just a commitment to make a strong book. So what did I do? I edited, consulted, emailed, and edited some more in the process of putting a book together.
All right, so I’m a business editor now—why does that really matter?
And it doesn’t matter where you’ve started either.
Was this all about a title someone gave me? No. Did I need that title to start editing? No. But I did need my manager’s trust.
It matters what you do, and where you go from here. What your goals are, and your plans to get you there.
You may not be business editor for a small press. You may have a dream to write fiction or poetry—or you may be a mid-list seller on the fiction rolls, doing really well for yourself or have a spectacular following on Amazon.
Where do you want to be? Just because you haven’t edited right now, or written a novel last month, doesn’t mean you can’t.
Anything in life is about learning the basics and improving your skills by doing and getting feedback from those more experienced (if you can). Even if that means getting personalized rejection notices (the best kind) or getting a critique partner somewhere.
Principles stay the same, but there are details that change—like social media and online video, for two examples. Facebook hasn’t been around for that long already. Same with Google.
Writing is about being HERE and getting THERE—and it’s the same thing for writers’ careers, as it is for the pieces they write.
Humans have a tendency to compare themselves to others—wanting their success, looks, what-have-ya—the list could go on forever.
It can be encouraging or discouraging, depending on how you look at it. Do you know what the person you’re comparing to yourself went through to get where they are today?
If you do, usually that can be cause for inspiration—like Stephen King throwing the first part of his first novel in the trash—literally—and having his wife scoop it up, and tell him to keep going.
I’m saying this because it’s something that I need to tell myself more often. Comparing when you know the facts is good–if not, not so much.
Things happen. Life happens. Sometimes we need to move on without a look back—and other times we need to party our brains out, write out a plan to use what we’ve learned, and THEN move on.
Sometimes things happen that really are that good. But don’t wait for someone to give you a title–write some words. Improve your skills. Whether people recognize you for it or not–that’s the hard part.
Which is what makes writing frustrating, as well as rewarding.
Until next time,