I love words. I love diving deep into sentence structures, vocabulary, and the rhythm of one paragraph, flowing after another, page after page. Words can be powerful and gentle. They can be uplifting, instructive, and revealing. A page filled with letters grants me a gift I can’t find anywhere else… intellectual and emotional freedom. Books are a judgment-free zone where I am allowed my own interpretation of the message and even the silent mispronunciation of names, places, and magic spells. Words allow me to choose what I see rather than someone else dictating my vision. When reading, I get to decide when to take a “commercial break.” I can slow down when the pages become overwhelming. I can speed up when situations become exciting. Without losing my place, I can inhale deeply and take a few minutes to collect my thoughts or contemplate an outcome. There are no rules about reading below, at, or above my “reading level” (whatever that means). Without recrimination, I can set a book down and walk away if it becomes too sad, too angry, or too dull.
My lexicon is so much a part of who I am that I actually dream in words. It’s odd, I know. Instead of seeing the dreamscape in images, like the rest of the “normal” people of the world, my dreams appear in words. I read them as they are printed on a page or sometimes scrolling on a blank screen. We dream to interpret experiences and work out the stress of our waking lives. Words have always been my safe place, so it makes sense that I dream in words. I’ve never questioned it.
When I was a child, I escaped into a universe of books. Sunday afternoons, my family visited the library. It was a requirement to read at least one book per week. I often read four or five. When I was “caught” reading by my parents or a teacher, they were instantly distracted from any wrong I may have done and instead praised me for my “good choice.” At school, my teachers rewarded me for reading with free pizza coupons. At home, my parents encouraged reading. During long trips, I read in the car to avoid interacting with my older siblings. I was never reprimanded for too much time spent loitering in the library, bookshop, or even in front of the magazine rack at the grocery store. A love of reading gave me time without the intolerance of my parent’s “to do” list. Reading brought me peace.
I realized early on that writing was the thing that called to my soul. I started writing in second grade. I told stories to my friends on the playground and later put them on paper. I coveted silent reading time in class. I spent my summer vacation eagerly, willingly writing research papers at the library. I saw the card catalogue as a big treasure hunt, and Roget’s Thesaurus was the map. I wrote papers for friends in high school, not only to help them pass their classes but so that I could have the fun of exploring their ideas with my words. Yes, I was that kid. More than anything else in this world, books are where I find my home. Books are how I experience the texture of life. This is why I chose to become an editor.
An editor’s duty is to help writers wade through the frustrating bits. We point out the plot holes that need to be filled. We manage timelines and strengthen a writer’s talent to connect readers to characters with subtle dignity. It is our obligation to help maintain the author’s authentic voice while enticing the turn of each page with an appropriate pace. We maintain continuity of details and mask the effort of creation. Simply put, an editor makes the process of refining a book less daunting. I help writers whistle while they work, frolicking through the task of polishing the grammar and dusting away the cobwebs of a story to reveal its pure brilliance. And I love it.
I love conspiring with an author to flesh out their ideas. I love watching word choices change the meaning of a group of sentences as they march off to serve the hero or teach a lesson. I love the nourishment punctuation offers a story while helping a victim scream, a lover swoon, and a villain rage against a truth they would rather ignore. I love diving into symbolism as it serves a subplot. I love the anticipation of setting up a red herring that forces the reader to go back over the last six pages with the intoxication of reading them for the first time. There is nothing more satisfying to me than helping an author sculpt their thoughts in a way that is surprising, reaffirming, enchanting, or beguiling to a reader. The day is not wasted if I can offer my perspective, skills, and experience to help writers improve their stories.
The joy of becoming an author is not found in the final book on the shelf… although that is a happy moment worthy of celebration. The more profound pleasure lies in the creation of it. The fascination is in finding just the right word or turn of phrase. An adrenaline rush comes to the author when bringing a story to the pinnacle of tension and then teasing the reader with another twist. There is tremendous satisfaction in forcing a reader to wait until the end of a story to reveal a suspect, savor or suffer the commitment of love, or dangle a cliffhanger that tempts the next book in a series. Editors protect that rush.
My love for the written word, and my belief that all words, whether I agree with them or not, are sacred, led me to become a book editor. It takes a lot of courage to put our thoughts on the page. A vulnerability exists in writing that is rare and precious. I strive to help others who find comfort in words realize their dream of publication. I’ve worked with authors on all levels of experience, from novice to veteran. Mentoring an author as they find their voice and craft their stories is an exercise in wonderment. I’m honored that so many have trusted their work to my influence. I can’t imagine spending the hours of my life doing anything else.
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