Every author has a literary blind spot. For instance, I have a penchant for overusing the word “very,” so when an editor points that out, I’m hardly surprised. Way back in the day, I was also fond of POV switches. Editor wiped my hard drive of those, too. My point is that having my literary blind spot pointed out to me made me a much stronger writer…and this brings me to today’s “I want to put my head in an egg beater.”
We’ve been in contract negotiations for awhile with a particular book. Totally love it. Totally want it – even though it needs a heavy hand with editing. The story is fantastic. Oh, the places this book could go…tra la. Knowing all this, I just wrote the agent to suggest the author would probably be happier with someone else. My sin? Editing: he needed them but didn’t want them.
Well, that’s not entirely true. He was willing to allow edits, but only on his terms. The problem is that he isn’t aware of his literary blind spot and I’m probably the first editor, or person for that matter, who pointed them out. As a result, he wants to pick and choose what edits he’ll allow and what will remain as is. Problem is, he’s not a writer, so he doesn’t understand the finer points of story organization and paragraph/scene transitions. And because he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t trust my critiques. He wants his story to remain as is because he feels it’s perfect.
Ask yourself; are you guilty of this? If so, please know that editors can’t work with one hand tied behind their back. If you’re serious about your writing, you need to honor the fact that you have a literary blind spot. It could be big or a minor. Either way, you’re not above requiring edits. Today’s email to the agent saddened me because nothing is more frustrating than watching a very promising book being hindered by an author who’s holding on too tight with their eyes closed.
Don’t let this happen to you. Believing your writing comes from the hands of the Great Cosmic Muffin could be the barrier between a not-ready-for-prime-time book and a publishing contract.