Monday, April 11, 2011

An Act of Courage

Jenny Proctor and Emily Poole

These two women changed my life.

How often do you get to say that about someone?  How often is it said about you?

Jenny Proctor and Emily Poole are sisters.  They are also fantastic writers.  In fact, Jenny's first book will soon be on shelves.

But as much as I have enjoyed their writing as well as their friendship, they really didn't earn the status of "life changing" until some time ago, when I was working on a collection of essays.

The essays in question were personal, and I was looking for editing help from writers - and people - I trusted.

Emily and Jenny took on the task of working as my editors.  And my writing life was forever changed.

I sent them work that I fully expected to be "rubber stamped" and declared ready for publication.  Instead, I received well-conceived critique, wonderful suggestions, and structural insights I never would have realized on my own.

At times, it was difficult to follow their suggestions.  There were moments when I looked at a page of line edits and wondered if I would ever find the right words, tell the story I wanted to tell, meet the expectations of my editing friends.  At one point, Emily highlighted an entire paragraph and said simply:  'I know you can write better than this.'  Gulp!  She may have known that about me, but I sure didn't!

I actually have a very clear memory of that moment.  I looked at what I had written, considered Emily's stated confidence in my abilities, and then metaphorically cracked my knuckles and went to work proving Emily right!

The more we worked together, the more enjoyable the process became for me.  And when a piece was finally determined to be 'finished,' I knew I had produced something I could be proud to put my name to.

These two women made me a better writer.

I know that it can be intimidating to put your 'brain child' out there for scrutiny and critique.  After all, you've labored over this work, you've loved it and hated it and wrestled it and tamed it. And now you're voluntarily allowing someone to take it apart and voice their opinions on how it could be improved.

Who subjects their 'children' to such tortures?

Good writers do, that's who. 

So, to those who are looking to get past their fears of the editorial process, I'm making an offer:  Send me something you've written - let's say 1,200 words or less - and I'll take you through your first experience with editing and critique free of charge. 

I want you to see for yourselves that this is an exciting way to transform the great ideas you've already put together into your strongest writing - writing you can be more proud of than you thought possible.

Send your work in the body of an e-mail to editor@denaehandy.com, and make the subject line "Free First-time Edit."

It's time to be brave.  You want to be published, and you know that this is a crucial step to realizing your dreams.

And who knows?  Maybe one day you'll put my photograph on your blog, and you'll tell your loyal, adoring fans, "See this lady?  She changed my life."

I could totally live with that!

2 comments:

  1. Amazing, DeNae! I hope people realize what a wonderful opportunity you are offering. Will I see you at Storymakers this year?

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  2. Yay! Once I have written 1200 words I will send them your way . . . returning the favor and all, right?

    Everyone should take advantage of this opportunity, DeNae, because as fantastic a writer as you are, you are every bit as good an editor. And I must also state here that editing is a pleasure when the raw materials you have been given are so excellent in the first place. You are a gem, my friend. You've changed my life, too, in ways you don't even know!

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