The Magic of the Writing Practice

My manuscript has come back from my editor. We’ve talked on the phone about her comments and my vision for the book. An editor moves you toward a goal of incorporating new and better writing. Someone reads your work and offers objective criticism based, hopefully, on their own experience as a professional in the writing business. She wants to see this expanded, that delved into. My editor, although not a writer herself, comes from a solid background of working with Big Five publishers and authors from diverse backgrounds.

A writer, if she’s smart, profits from criticism. After receiving her developmental edit, I began to revise, combine chapters, add new writing to my novel, tentatively titled Ava’s Story: A Woman Alone. One of her criticisms that Ava seemed too focused on her relationships with men, made me smile. As an older widowed woman, Ava had dipped a toe more than once into the dating pool and knew widows and divorcees talking about relationships. But also, because my editor is married, we laughed that sometimes she envies her single friends.  She wants to know more about the life of single mother, of woman alone. She wants more of Ava. “There’s a fine line,” she said, “between a character feeling loneliness, yet her strength admired by the reader.”

Her observation that the spiritual seeking side of Ava needs greater exploration resonated. I look forward to developing this aspect of Ava’s journey as a woman who ponders the “exciting sea change” that comes with reflection and a rich inner life.

An editor needs to offer encouragement. “Overall, I really enjoyed reading this,” she wrote. “You have a wonderful voice and are an extremely talented writer.” Several sections of the novel, dealing with a friend’s Alzheimer’s and Ava’s childhood, she labeled “exquisite writing.” She added: “This story will surely touch many readers grappling with love and loss, aging and the search for meaning in this life.” I breathed a sigh of relief. When it comes to editing, all of us feel a bit like beginners.

Which brings me to our Women’s Writing Circle last weekend, much of which centered on the craft of writing, while offering validation. Difficulties, longing, loss, grief and joy beckon as we row on in what is often a healing journey, and a creative pleasure. Readback lines to the writer, what resonated, yes, this is a form of editing. It’s a commitment to the craft to take the risk … to read our work, or have another read it. Through the magic of the writing practice we develop stories to their fullest potential. As our writers did, a writer moves toward those moments of being that lead to understanding life by putting pen to paper … writing a poem about autumn leaves, a reflection on a September day at the beach with only waves and no swimmers, growing up in Pittsburgh with its empty manufacturing sites and silent smokestacks. Or for me, revising a novel where a woman remembers a rainy day at the library with her father. These moments where life and art come together offer the magic of the writing practice.

How about you? Do you have an editing experience you can share?

Published by Susan G. Weidener

Join me as I share reflections, always with an eye toward the challenges and struggles we women encounter and embrace in both creative and personal ways. My memoir, Again in a Heartbeat, was selected as a 2011 editor’s pick by Story Circle Network. Its sequel Morning at Wellington Square has also achieved critical acclaim. A Portrait of Love and Honor, a novel based on a true story, is centered around a story of two people destined to meet and one man's commitment to honor following his years at West Point. In 1991, I joined the staff of The Philadelphia Inquirer and worked as a reporter covering news and writing feature stories until 2007. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs, I attended the University of Pennsylvania. In 2010, I started the Women's Writing Circle, a critique and support group for writers in suburban Philadelphia, which now meets informally. I live in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania with my Yellow Lab, Lily.

2 thoughts on “The Magic of the Writing Practice

  1. I chose you as one of my editors because you recognize “exquisite writing” when you see it, and when you don’t, offer suggestions for getting there. I definitely look forward to your published novel, all in good time!

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  2. Thank you, Marian. It’s something that can’t be rushed … and I enjoy adding pages to the novel through additional writing that enhances the story. I remember beautiful passages in your memoir and, of course, I loved the sense of place you brought to your story as I have lived near Lancaster County my entire life.

    Like

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