Sioux the Stalker

Sunday, April 29, 2018

I didn't plan on stalking someone. It just happened.

There I was at one of my favorite bookstores, strolling up and down the aisles, when I saw the above book. I pounced on it. Taking it to the cashier, I almost felt guilty.

I mean, I didn't buy the book simply for the joy of reading it, although I'm sure I will enjoy reading Caught Between Two Curses.

I also didn't buy the book for my classroom library, although I know that once I'm finished with it, I will either put it on my shelf in my class or offer it as a giveaway to fellow writers/bloggers.

No, I bought the book to spy on Margo... to examine what writing choices she made... to try and find out what makes Margo tick as a writer.

Why? Why am I interested in getting into her head? Why have I become a stalker? I want to get into Margo's head because I want to know if she'll get into my manuscript. Somehow, I think that as I read her words and get engrossed in the story she's spun, I'll feel a connection, a certainty that she will appreciate the story I've crafted. And the stalking part? Well, this manuscript is the first baby I'm not thinking people will label "breathtaking." I'm keeping my fingers crossed that people don't shudder when they read it... And yet that is the point of hiring an editor.

An editor will tell me if my baby is a monstrosity... or whether it's something worth cuddling and nurturing and feeding. Should it grow, or should it be set aside? A decent editor will tell me.

As writers, we sometimes are blind to the flaws in our work. If we've worked for a year or two or three on a project, we develop rose-colored glasses. Our story starts sounding like it's Pulitzer Prize material. The holes, the stilted parts, the tangled-mess-of-a-plot? All that disappears as we bask in the glow of what we created.

Here is an article about the necessity of book editing (in case you've never hired an editor). I felt good when I read myth #5, since several writing friends have sung Margo's praises. This other article spells out what makes a great book editor. (I cringed when I read about the problem of "sagging middles" but then calmed down when I realized they were talking about lagging-middles when it came to the story line, not poochy bellies.)

So Margo, be gentle with me. No, I take that back. Be honest with me. When I get around to sending you my manuscript (which will be soon), tell it to me straight: Do I have a beautiful baby, or is it "breathtaking"?

And for those who have hired an editor in the past--or if you're an editor yourself--I'd love to hear from you.

After all, I'm new to this process, and they say you never forget your first time...

Sioux Roslawski is a freelance writer, a middle-school teacher, a consultant with the National Writing Project, a wife, a mom, a grammy and a dog rescuer. In her free time she reads (until she falls asleep, drooling and snoring). If you'd like to read more of her stuff, check out her blog.


Margo Dill said...

Sioux, I opened The Muffin today to see what I should post on our social media accounts and imagine my surprise when I saw my baby on the top of the page. :) (And it wasn't KT or my dog! LOL)

If I have to have a stalker, I'm glad it's you.

And my critique group I am currently in is the reason for that manuscript ever getting published. I had a few plotlines in the original that were just crazy. I loved them. I thought I needed them. And being the writers, editors, critiquers they are, they told me to cut those things, and they were right.

I look forward to working with you if you decide to allow me to read your work.

Mary Horner said...

Sioux, it's always a challenge to send our babies out into the world. I struggle with it still, and loved your post! Margo is great, though!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I'm halfway through your baby... and enjoying it.

Mary--It IS such a struggle. And I've known Margo for years, knew she was a wonderfully warm person and a witty blogger, but now I'm getting to know her as a writer, and--from testimony from other writers--I'm getting to know her as an editor. It's not the easiest thing to do--giving your baby over to someone else, but it's time.

Margo Dill said...

Thanks, Mary, for the words of encouragement and thanks for reading my book, Sioux. :)

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