Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Editing and Writing - They Ain't The Same Thing

Reposted from top literary agent, Chip McGregor's Blog where he answers questions about writing, publishing, and marketing.

I thought this was a particularly interesting one, because as a free-lance editor I talk to clients all the time that have had a botched editing job from an author. I have to agree with Chip 100%. I know it seems that the two should come from the same place, but editing and writing are completely different. Now that being said, I'm an author who edits and "me" thinks I'm pretty good at doing both. The jury is still out on the book and I guess you all will let me know what you think of Secrets and Lies when it comes out in December. I'm optimistic.

Here's what Chip had to say...

"Why do some people edit fiction with the wisdom of Obi Wan Kanobi, but when they write their own novels they have the mentality of Forest Gump?"

Because editing and writing are two different skills. They are related, but not the same. A great songwriter isn't necessarily a great singer. A world famous choreographer may not be one of the best dancers. I know you're a sports fan, and one of the things we've seen in sports is that a great player generally makes a lousy coach (in fact, in football and basketball, the best coaches were normally average or below-average players -- perhaps because the game did not come easy to them, they needed to study the fundamentals more, and thus became better at thinking through the game). So a great editor, one who really understands what it takes to work on a good manuscript and make it even better, may not be able to write a great novelist herself. And there's no shame in that. I'm 50, and as I've gotten older, I've developed a much better sense of the work it takes to become great at anything. Malcolm Gladwell has surmised that it takes about 10,000 hours to become really great at anything. So (to go back to our coaching analogy) you can bet the guy coaching and winning with a professional sports team really knows his stuff -- and, in fact, knows much more than all those dipstick fans writing letters to the editor and complaining about his team. The people making a living at singing are blessed by God with incredible voice and talent, and probably worked as hard as anyone else who becomes successful in a chosen career. I know that the people who dance professionally are SO good they expose the rest of us amateur hoofers. I've said it before -- the editors who last in this business are generally VERY good at what they do. Listen to them...even if they've never published a book.

I say, good advice. Contact me at Legacy Editing if you have a manuscript you'd like assistance with. I promise you won't be disappointed in THIS author/editor. :o)

Thanks for stopping by!

No comments: