What does a working relationship between a writer and an editor look like? Author and HNE client, Jessie Clever and I have known each other for more than ten years. So in our case, it looks a little snarky.
Welcome to Letters to My Editor. She writes to me one week on her blog. I reply the next on mine. Mayhem just might ensue.
Why, yes, I do happen to have personal experience with National Novel Writing Month, as you well know. You were the one to talk me into doing it a measly couple of days before one very crazy November. Pondering how you managed to do so still keeps me up at night.
But I’ll play along, impeccable sport that I am. (Don’t challenge that, Clever.) Be forewarned that this is entirely a personal reflection. I don’t pretend to recommend the experience for everyone no matter the value I put on it.
From my standpoint, NaNoWriMo is an incredibly supportive, creative, rewarding, challenging, and inspirational hell on earth. And if that sentence doesn’t clearly state my opinion on NaNo, good. It shouldn’t.
First thing first: it isn’t easy. Writing a 50,000 word draft in 30 days is, for most of us, a logistical nightmare. Americans, trying to explain to your family why you have to disappear right after your Thanksgiving meal to write your daily word count may be a tricky issue. Day job employers aren’t wild about their staff calling in with a chronic case of nanowritis either. And if you happen to be an outliner/planner who just happens to allow herself to be persuaded to wing it for a month by a dear friend and client, well, I can tell you that your spouse will be force feeding you reheated casserole and your child will begin to think Mama is the troll that lives in the home office and complains erratically about bad internet connections. . .
However, NaNo is a personal commitment, a call to FOR-THE-LOVE-OF-ALL-THAT-IS-HOLY-KATE-JUST-FINISH-THE-INFERNAL-DRAFT, and a community in which to participate at my own comfort level and need. It was a pilgrimage, a trial by fire, proof to myself that I could shut off my internal editor for an extended period of time, and the vehicle through which I gained a greater understanding of myself as a writer, editor, artist, and person. It might not be right for everyone, but at that time in my life, it was exactly what I needed.
For all those WriMos out there, soldier on and all the most loquacious wishes for your success! My only advice is to keep in mind what you want to achieve with the experience. It should be personal and worthy of your commitment and effort. What did I achieve? Well, all I can say is that while the motivation was good, Jessie’s not getting another first draft for her birthday present any time soon.
So, Jessie, now I’m passing the NaNo torch to you. What was it like for you to read your editor’s NaNo draft? How important, if at all, is it to you that your editors write and understand the process from a writer’s perspective? (I cringe at the thought of further discussion of my own writing, but if it leads to any insight, I’ll willingly accept the coming cringe.)