“Fuck critics, you can kiss my whole arsehole.”
I recently caught up with a friend of mine who just like myself, is penning her way through the early stages of what she hopes to be an illustrious writing career. While our writing journeys are very similar in many ways: that is to say we seem to have catalysts and compulsions that are very akin to one another, I’m a little further along the path of completing a manuscript and seeing my work make it into print. That’s not to detract from her abilities at all. In fact, her script sounds like it’s a million times better than mine. Once it’s finished I’m sure that you’ll see her name in lights a hell of a lot quicker than you see this narcissistic arsehole’s. When I say I’m further ahead I simply mean that while she’s currently putting the finishing touches on her first draft, I’ve already had my story edited and it is currently being reviewed for potential representation by a number of agencies.
During the course of our conversation the idea of finding an editor came up. Once her manuscript is complete she’ll need to start undergoing that heinous task of refining her novel until it is perfect and ready for publication. A task that I myself have already undertaken, loathing every minute until it was finally complete. As we talked about editors the concept of the writer’s voice entered the conversation and she expressed concern that the wrong editor would destroy everything that makes her script, her script. It was an interesting point, and one that got me thinking about myself and my works.
Every writer has a unique style, a voice if you will. Just like every single man, woman, or child has their own distinct sound built up of tone, pitch, inflections, and a hundred other variables. So too does a writer have a sound that is their own. Take a second to think about the writers you admire, is it necessarily the stories that they tell that you fall in love with? We all know that there are just seven basic themes in literature (as per the theory created by Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch). Or is it the unique idiosyncrasies that the writer weaves into their tales that leaves us swan diving into their worlds of love, fantasy, ruin and woe?
For me, it’s the voice of the writer that keeps me engaged. Therefore if I hope to be successful, if I hope to become the writer I have always dreamed of being, I have to nurture the very things that make me unique. I have to (quoting myself here) become a singularity, and I have to devote all of my time and energy to honing my voice and weaving it through my works with a sleight of hand so smooth and subtle that the reader is left dumbfounded. And when working with an editor, publisher, agent, a friend, or a critic, one must learn to be acutely aware of those external influences and the damaging effect they can have on your manuscripts in their quest to be helpful. An editor or agent should seek to draw out those unique idiosyncrasies of their artist rather than manipulate and destroy them.
Thankfully when I undertook the editing process with Midas my editor did exactly that. She helped me, challenged me, and inspired me to be the best writer that I could possibly be. The result? Right now things are looking pretty damn good for my writing. So to all of you out there who are looking at entering that bastard editing stage I wish you the best. Find an editor that is right for you, let them help you find your voice, then scream your story from the fucking rooftops. Silence the critics and be the best damn writer you can be. There’s no one more qualified to tell your story than you.