“‘A book is so much a part of oneself that in delivering it to the public one feels as if one were pushing one’s own child out into the traffic.” ─ Quentin Bell
I met with my editor, Lisa Jackson, yesterday at a coffee house in Nashua to go over the edits to MacCullough’s Women. I can relate to Mr. Bell’s quote because the characters: Drew, Franny, Brid, Neil, Lorie, and Sofia feel like they are my children and I love them. I brought them to life and set them in motion through the pages of the book. Sitting with an editor is in many ways like sitting across from a teacher at a Parent Conference. You only want to hear good news but you usually know your child’s strengths and weaknesses before you sit down. Unfortunately, the characters you create in books, like the children you give birth to, are rarely flawless.
I learned from Lisa that I have raised some of “my children” better than I have raised others. No matter how a writer feels about her book, it is usually in the best interest of the book to listen to the editor. There are two types of edits: content and copy. I have asked Lisa to do both and she has done an excellent job. The content edit examines the book for inconsistencies in the story, the timeline, plot and characters. The copy edit prepares the book for publication checking for mistakes in grammar, spelling, formatting and spacing. She pointed out to me that two spaces are no longer used at the end of a sentence. She paused for a minute, smiled and added, “This applies to blogs, too.” You get to see how well I listened to her as you continue to read my blog. This will be a difficult habit for me to break as it appears that I am hardwired to put two spaces in after a period or question mark. “Or three,” Lisa would probably add. Over the course of writing this book, I have learned when it comes to punctuation (especially commas) that in my mind more is better and that is not always the case.
The next few weeks I will be sending Drew and Lorie to “summer school” as I work out the best way to incorporate Lisa’s suggestions into the story. The result, we hope, will be a better book.
I have a great read for you: Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. Silver Sparrow is the story of a bigamist and his two families. Set in Atlanta, the book follows James Witherspoon, a complicated man shaped by an adolescent mistake, as he delicately juggles two wives and two daughters living only a few miles apart. Jones has created a story where it is possible to be feel sympathy for both families, especially for the two young women, born four months apart, who are at first drawn to and then repelled by one other. Enjoy it.