I have my best friend to thank for knocking some sense in my head a while back when she asked me, “When are you making this whole editing thing official so that I can finally pay you?”
I started editing fiction long before I ever knew I was editing fiction. Sure, I’ve always loved to read and write. And sure, I’ve always loved reading a friend’s work in order to give my feedback about what would make a story or situation stronger. But for a long time I didn’t realize that I was editing. I was just doing a favor for a buddy, reading anything in sight, and scribbling things that were amusing to me that no one would ever see.
When I was a child, I used to think there was one correct way to become whatever it was one was going to become as a grown-up (it usually involved a lot of schooling and the stamp of approval from whatever the authoritative body was for any given area). So when I started participating in “career days” in school, I was expecting to hear about the proper procedure for becoming what I wanted to be. However, as I anxiously sat in informational session after informational session, two things stuck with me, and they weren’t about procedure:
- The adults said a lot of things about the jobs we would have possibly not existing yet.
- We were told in no uncertain terms (especially about acting and writing) that if there was absolutely anything else in life that we thought we could do, we should go do that instead. There will always be someone better than us to do this.
It was a bit hard to appreciate either of these ideas when I was very focused on jumping through the right hoops and completing my rather confusing and altogether impossible checklists in order to fit into industries that seemed rather exclusive. Freelance wasn’t exactly a concept I had intentionally contemplated all that much.
My two-part point is something that quite a lot of people have known much longer than me:
- There’s not just one way to do or be what you want to do or be. Heck, like me, you might have been doing whatever it is that fulfills you one way or another far longer than you’ve realized!
- There’s room for everyone in the storytelling industry. No one can be better at being you than you. This is important to know in the midst of a world that has a habit of telling people that they’re replaceable.
Now, that might sound like a lot of sentimental frosting to put over difficulties that tend to giggle in the face of positive thinking. And yes, before you ask, I was raised on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, believe every word that man said, and am very proud of it.
However, believe it or not, I’m also a realist. I prefer to see the world for what it is, and when those grown-ups told me that I should go do something else, I kept thinking, “If they’re trying to get me to take this seriously and to know that things won’t always be easy, then there’s a much clearer, more effective, and less combative way to say it.” (Yeah, I should have probably taken that as a hint that just maybe I’d enjoy being an editor.)
We might not all be best-selling authors, renowned the world over, but that’s not the same as saying there isn’t room for someone who wants to write. It’s incredibly hard work, and the creativity and the dedication that goes into it should be applauded. Whether you are admirably jumping through traditional writing-related hoops or you are bravely forging your own new path in the wilds of the written word, keep going! If writing is even partially your vocation, your calling, there’s absolutely room for you in this industry.
How Novel Editing (HNE) exists, because I firmly believe that if someone has a story to tell, they should have the chance to tell it to the best of their ability. HNE is a support system. It’s far more than clearing up a pronoun confusion (though that’s incredibly important too!). As an editor, I want to be a source of encouragement for writers, for you.
After all, there isn’t just one way to tell a story, but only you can tell yours.