It is with shock and horror I realise how long it’s been since I last posted on Wordgeyser. I wish I could tell you I’ve been traveling the world, or training to be an astronaut ready for the manned space flight to Mars (the Captain and I did discuss it briefly), or some other mega life-changing opportunity. Or found a new passion, discovering a latent talent for painting or poetry or music.
Much has been happening here in the Netherlands this spring that warrants my sharing with those who have lived here, or who are planning to move here. The opening of the fabulous Rijksmuseum after a ten year refurbishment, the abdication of Queen Beatrix and accession of her son King Willem-Alexander. The awful cold, wet spring which saw the world renowned Keukenhof gardens open with so few flowers it was embarrassing – then a week or so later to see snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and tulips all blooming at the same time.
Numerous little day-to-day details of life here in the Low Countries that should be recounted and shared. The seemingly large number of people leaving the Netherlands this summer – among them, sadly, many dear friends – and the new arrivals coming in. The return of our youngest after his first year at college and an update on our first year as empty nesters, the latest (canine) addition to our family. But no, the laptop keys have remained silent when it comes to blog content.
So what have I been up to? In many ways I’m hard pressed to remember. The spring has flown by (thankfully) in a cold, wet and grey mist, rather like my brain, which has been absorbed in my second favourite passion after writing – editing.
Editing suits my personality traits of attention to detail and getting things right. It’s not only a matter of the big picture, the pacing and flow, or correct grammar, it’s finding the perfect nuance, the best word to convey a meaning, emotion or idea, deleting the text that adds no value, removing ambiguity, refining the text to a clear, sharp focus. Helping the author take their ideas, thoughts and manuscript to the highest level possible – while maintaining their own voice and style.
The nearest I can get to describing the process is like being a midwife – while the author sits clutching a finished manuscript, terrified of handing it to someone else, terrified of setting it free into the world, yet knowing it’s going to happen one way or another. How painful that process is depends on the relationship of trust between the parent and the midwife.
It is a relationship of delicate balances. The author will often be unsure why an editor is needed: after all it is their book, their idea, their writing. By the time the book is presented to the world, the first published copy, crisp and new, held between unbelieving fingers, they wonder how it could have happened without one.
It’s a tough time for the editor too – having been on such an emotional and creative roller-coaster with another writer, lived and breathed their work for months at a time, suddenly it’s over. It’s done.
That wonderful sense of euphoria is exhilarating, accompanied by a sense of pride that another project is successfully completed, and someone else understands what an editor really does.
And yet… there is a certain sadness that the symbiotic relationship between writer and editor is over, as the writer moves into the next stage with their book – sales and marketing.
Like the midwife, there is always the next project, the next author. Each book is different, each relationship with an author is different. It’s enriching, exciting, and often exhausting – always with deadlines and dramas to navigate.
I’m lucky I get to work with book designers too, talented, gifted individuals who continue to thrill me with their ideas for covers and the look of internal pages. And then the production stage, when the switch from manuscript to PDF for print causes wonderful technical glitches.
During those long hours spent in the labor room, in the process of getting authors to breathe when they need to, and push when they are close to giving up, there seems little time for nurturing my own words. Yet nurturing them is essential – it is only through being comfortable with my own I can see the work of other writers clearly.
Now the time has come to redress the balance. I have set aside time over the summer for my own words, both blogging and in other places and it feels good to be back. There’s so much to catch up on, you won’t believe it…
As someone who recently ‘gave birth’, I can fully attest that the best books – in all senses of the word, because you have helped make them so – come from editors who help midwife them into existence. Such a powerful post that is spot on. Looking forward to interviewing you 🙂
Welcome back – LOVE the new header photo. It was interesting to hear an editor’s perspective and I’m looking forward to hearing more from Jane the Writer in the coming months. Don’t be a stranger…
Cancel book at bedtime read Jane’s Blog. Well done.
Glad to see you back Jane, I always enjoy your posts, they’re thought provoking and just the job with a cup of tea! Thanks.
Love your writing Jane-miss you!
Great piece, Jane, and I am really pleased to hear you’ve set aside time to write. Can’t wait to read more of your lovely blog posts!
Thought of you just the other day, Jane, good to see you back in the inbox. Wonderful, fitting analogy. Happy summer!