Since my last post, a lot has gone on in Mother Freakin' Writer land. I've become a certified yoga teacher trainee. (yay!) I highly recommend stepping away from writing and really diving in to something physical, and by stepping away, I mean really stepping away. No writing letters to agents, no thinking about your story, tweaking your story, no looking up publishing success stories. For me, yoga is a perfect way to get all those angsty writer blues out of the body and focus on something else. Stepping away offers a much-needed perspective shift when you're tangled up in the publication journey. It clears the slate for other writing projects.
So, once you've stepped away, and let your baby go, you may be surprised to hear back from an agent, a publisher, or a trusted friend who has read your work, because you've created some space to let things come back to you.
If you are lucky enough to get feedback from more than one source, start looking for echoing sentiments. Are these sentiments you agree with or are they fundamentally contrary to the story you want to tell? Is your ego getting in the way from hearing prevailing opinions on how to make your work better? (If your ego is getting in the way, start looking at this and how it can deter from your becoming a better writer) If you are the reader, would you be on the side of these sentiments?
Which brings me to the subject of this post. How do you know when to take the leap and hire, yes hire, (and this
does not include your Mom or best friend - unless they are professional
editors) someone to give you some good old editorial feedback? Have you looked at your own work so much that you just can't see the flaws anymore? Do you feel unsure how to incorporate the feedback into your story? Are you really and truly ready to hear constructive criticism of your work? In fact, are you longing for it more than a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey before those lady days? If you've answered yes, you may want to take the leap and research professional freelance editors. It's not an easy decision as it's one thing to invest emotionally, as we all do, in our work. And it's another thing to invest financially in our work. Combining the two can feel like a lot of pressure.
Before jumping in with glee, as is so tempting when reaching an epiphany, it's so important to network with other writers for recommendations and find someone who specializes in your genre. It's equally important to look for warning signs like shady editors with no real track record, interest in the world of publishing, or those promising to hook you up with a publisher or agent if you go with them. (Because nobody, even the best editors, can guarantee publication)
Next time, I'll be asking a freelance editor some questions for those of us considering investing in professional feedback. If approached in a well-informed, realistic way, it's a big step that can offer returns on so many levels.
Until next time, keep on writing! (or step away from the keyboard--especially if you're feeling that specific eye twitch that comes with working too hard)