One of us talks too much. It’s me or my editor. Since I’m the one with questions and she’s the one with the experience, I hope it’s her.
I parked blocks away from my publisher’s where I could get a space for longer, I was in the meeting, I glanced at my editor’s watch, and saw that I was going to be overdue. God, how long have we been talking for? By the time-stamp on the parking ticket it looks like I got back to my car two minutes after I received the ticket and eight minutes after my time expired. They’re quick, those parking inspectors. They think they’re teaching me a lesson. Ha!
I don’t mind a parking ticket as a souvenir and it’s been a good day.
My editor is an ideas machine.
She has brilliant ideas, bad ideas, mad ones, good ones, one that I’ll try to make mine (tweak a bit, tuck a bit), ideas I’ll adopt with no change and ideas I’d step over if I saw them on the footpath.
The writer is usually the one with the ideas but I was empty.
Book Number Two was stuck at nearly twenty thousand words, it had been for four months, and I couldn’t figure out how to unstick it. It was time to get my editor involved. I sent her a non-desperate sounding email requesting a meeting at the desperate time of one a.m.
Enter my editor and I’m still learning, ears open.
Forty-four is not too old to learn. It’s the perfect age. Your years past thinking you now everything, you’ve left the recognition that your still so bloody naïve of your thirties behind and you’ve entered your forties. Your dumb, but you’re open to it. In fact, it’s exciting. I don’t know which learning ‘takes’ better – the turning up with a note pad and pen type, at the front of the class because you don’t want to miss anything that is said, or the incidental, osmosis-style stuff you learn on the way, usually after a mistake.
My editor showed me the mistake I was making.
I thought I had nothing to learn from Book Number Two. I thought since I knew the beginning, middle and end of the story, that the sense of discovery I tap away for had disappeared.
My editor remade the process for me. Reminded me that the main character is not me and I’m not tied, don’t have to write, to my experience of Post Natal Depression. I’m excited to let my side of the story go. They want laughs and they want sex. That’s going to be difficult for a novel where the protagonist becomes mentally ill. I love that. It’s a challenge and I’m not sure I can pull it off. It sounds hard. Hard is good.
Yep, happy days. Gimme a parking ticket because I want to remember this.
The next morning I went to the movies because I was wrecked.
It’s only chatting, taking some notes, sitting around a table what-iffing and how-abouting. It’s only talking about people who don’t exist behind their not-there backs, there is nothing physical about an editing meeting, but I was blown. I tried to get into it when I got home, enthusiasm was superbright, but I couldn’t. I have learnt that sometimes you have to leave it, allow ideas do their thing and let your subconscious take the reigns.
Yesterday arvo, refreshed and back at my computer, I sent my editor an email asking for a deadline. I like deadlines but I set them myself and they don’t take, they’re like ice floes, I step from one to another as they melt away. I said, go ahead, make it unreasonable.
End of the school year, we go until a couple of days before Christmas, is the harshest she could get. That’s good, there’s a press and there’s time. She’s smart, my editor. I’ve brought it forward to October 31st in a race with my writing partner. I’m not as smart as my editor. And if my writing partner looks like she’s going to beat me I’ll simply tie her up and leave her someplace. No, I’m not competitive, I want to win.
go ahead, make my day