I haven't blogged for a while – partly because of being busy, quite a lot because of being busy in France (wow, hello East London – the Dordogne you most certainly ain't!). So, catch up time.
Before going away, I managed to squeeze in a long chat with Leah Thaxton, at Faber, for an edit on the third draft of book 2, Squishy McFluff and the Supermarket Sweep.
Again, this story was actually inspired by real life events (taking children to a supermarket, getting to the checkout and noticing what they'd snuck in the trolley when I wasn't looking. Actually, one time I even paid for stuff that had been thrown in there. I was ever so tired back then).
I really love receiving comments from Leah. Obviously, they mean I have some work and brain jiggling to do (sometimes not the bits I thought would need work on either).
But it's brilliant how what Leah says makes me think about where I might be missing a trick (clarity, or accentuating a joke), where I might be tripping up future readers on scansion, where I could find a better word.
It can come down to a single word. It often comes down to a single word, actually (although a single word when you are writing in verse might mean re-writing a line, or a couplet, or a whole stanza).
I took the last few comments on holiday with me (in my head). They whirled around and gradually made more and more sense and I scribbled my almost-solutions in my notebook (above).
So, now draft 4 is with Leah and I'm so pleased with what I changed. I think it's better. That said, if there is more to do, I'm happy to.
Being edited is the key to growing as a writer, I've always liked the idea of it and I am indebted to an awful lot of people who read my texts, gave me their thoughts, and helped me to edit myself.
Manuscriptually speaking (I know it's not a real word), quite some time before Leah was my editor, even long before I had the eyes and ears of my fab writing group, I had another unofficial editor, Tracy, who gave up a whole heap of time reading and commenting on all the Squishy McFluff texts.
It seems funny now to think, even longer before that, I was Tracy's editor in the world of magazine publishing (a light year away from invisible cats). We travelled all the way to Fortnum and Mason one afternoon, to buy single cupcakes (Champagne ones).
Tracy gave me the notebook – she had bought the fabric, and covered the book for me, to make my Squishy notes in. Inspiring much?!
My first book editor's inspirational verse… :)
On my living room shelves, I have piles of paper covered with Tracy's comments.
Admittedly, she is a super-sub and quite a few of her squiggles were concerning my slightly shoddy punctuation (seriously, this woman could go on Mastermind regarding punctuation) – but without the help I had from Tracy, I know I wouldn't have got the texts as sharp as did eventually. She knows words.
An editor just loves words. An editor is passionate about making your words as sparkly and as effective as they can ever be. Sometimes, quite frankly, an editor (official or unofficial) is an angel.
What's not to love about being edited?
ps. thank you all editors, you rock.