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October 10, 2012 / catherinebwrites

WHEN IT GOES “DING”

On Monday I went to Mayo to meet with my editor Helen Falconer. I had chosen her from the list recommended by Allia ( The Alliance of Independent Authors). My choice was based on gut feeling, availability and the fact that we could meet face to face.  

I went to Sligo on Sunday night and stayed overnight with a cousin.   We  drank wine and caught up on family and friends.   On Monday the sun was doing what it should have been doing all summer, beaming.   The journey to Mayo was Tourist Board perfect.   The sea glittered and gleamed, Nephin loomed blue and mystic, sheep grazed elegantly among bog-brown and emerald fields.  

Helen lives way out in the country and when I say way out, I mean way, way out.   Go through Killala, turn down a side road, turn off it down a boreen, turn off that down a narrow  lane and up into a farmyard.   And there she was, leaning over the half-door of her cottage. I knew from checking her out that she’d once led the  life of a sophisticated London editor and reviewer.   This was a far cry from the metropolis.

Helen made me coffee and we got down to work at her kitchen table with the dog lying underneath and the cat supercilliously keeping her distance.  And boy-oh boy was she good.

How do you know if your editor’s good?   Here’s how.  

  • She gets the point of what you are writing and she sees hidden depths ( Soooo flattering!)  
  • She pinpoints  bits that don’t  work and  you remember feeling a bit iffy when you were writing  but …  
  • She pinpoints bits where, you are clear about what you wanted but you didn’t convey it in the words you put on the page.  
  • She pinpoints problems and, as she explains what she means, something goes “ding” in your head and you  know that she’s right.  
  • She marks bits that you think are fine and says “but that’s just a matter of taste”
  • She offers suggestions and lets you discuss ways of solving the problems.

All of this happened during my day with Helen and it made me feel safe.   It made me feel that my precious book-baby was in the best hands and that her suggestions would only make my work better.

There is just one drawback. I’ve loads more work to do.

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