Recently I spoke at the Sun City Writers Group (Writers Circle) in Palm Desert, California.
I was warmly welcomed by Phyllis Humphrey, the club’s vice president. Also in attendance was my old friend Linda Pierce, who had been a student in my Palos “Writing the Novel” class several years ago. (For information about the book, Writing the Novel, click here.)
The event was well attended and I had a great time. I spoke about specific tips and tricks I use when I write. Some of the topics covered were “How to deal with writers’ block,” “How to create an outline,” “The importance of pacing,” “Creating ‘character biographies,'” and many other topics.
I also recounted a humbling story about the importance of an editor. When I was writing my first novel, The Atlantean Document, I showed the first ten pages to a friend of mine who worked for the Hollywood Reporter. When he returned the pages it looked as though he had opened a vein and bled all over them. There was red ink everywhere.
When I recovered, I realized that many of the mistakes were repeated, which made things seem worse than they first appeared. Still, there were a lot of things that needed to be done better.
Even though the experience was humbling, it was one of the most important writing experiences I ever had. I swallowed my pride, focused, and did not repeat the mistakes that had been pointed out to me so vividly.
If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, don’t be defensive. Seize the opportunity. Learn everything you can from the experience. Readers don’t know who the editor is. You get all the credit. And the blame. If you find an editor that makes your work better and helps you improve as an author, grab him (or her) and don’t let them go.