The other day, a story of mine was accepted for publication. The editor with whom I was paired came back with a couple suggestions on my story. The suggestions, rather than stripping my voice or taking away from my story, showed me that she got my vision and had some ideas to make it richer. It was such a delightful experience that the end story, with maybe twelve words difference from the original, is 100 times better than the original. She was that good.
I’ve actually been lucky the past few times I’ve submitted to end up paired with phenomenal editors. When I was accepted into The Selkie’s “Very Much Alive” journal, I was blessed to work with a professional and talented writer. And when I took my WIP to a recent critique group through the Herstry Blog, I got some incredibly valuable feedback. And as I noted in a previous blog, I’m taking a flash fiction workshop where the instructor and the other participants give insightful advice to me and each other.
On the opposite side, I recently had someone look over a couple pages of my work and come back with such general, offhand feedback that I couldn’t even be sure they had actually read my work. Instead of giving me actionable feedback, they made a few general comments, threw out a couple links to articles, and said, “Read up on these craft elements. And buy my book on writing.”
It could be a matter of different editing styles or it could be that some of my pieces are closer to publishing-ready than the others. But it’s a good lesson that choosing an editor or a beta reader or even something like a writing group is kind of like dating. Sometimes, you just know it’s right (or wrong) from the first date. And when it’s right–you find a way to hang on to that person if you can. And when it’s wrong, just let it go.
If you are just starting to work with an editor, remember you don’t have to stick with someone if they aren’t working out for you. Check out the sample and take the time to really look at their feedback and see if it’s helped make your work tighter and or/richer. If it hasn’t, or if you feel they just aren’t getting you, it’s okay to look for someone else. After all, your manuscripts and your stories are your babies. You wouldn’t trust them with just anyone.