I helped Cathie Andrew edit her new book on memoir writing and asked her recently why she needed an editor. Here’s what she said:
“A writer gets very close to their writing and sometimes the mind can fool you. You assume you’ve explained things fully or created the picture you wanted. However, you may have just taken that for granted. You really need someone to check or oversee it to make sure that the reader can pick up and understand the picture that you created.
“Of course, as writer, this creation is your baby. But once I have given that creation up to an editor, I can then actually say it’s finished. That’s the actual letting go, when I’ve sent it out to an editor.”
I asked Cathie how she knows whether or not an editor is working well with her.
“Well, you definitely have to have a rapport. I need to know that the editor is mindful of my phrasing, my voice, open to listening to my thoughts and the meaning of my work. Mind you, the first look is for grammatical errors, punctuation and so forth. I’ve tried Spellcheck but couldn’t trust it fully. It would say I needed a comma here and there but that would have broken up the meaning of my sentence. It wasn’t what I was trying to get across.
“That’s why I wouldn’t want to use editing software, because the meaning can be lost or incorrect. I would be wary to trust it totally.
“Editors pay close attention to detail and yet keep in mind the voice of the writer. Also, it’s important for the editor to have a good sense of conversational speaking in order for dialogue to sound real. I liked your ability, Heidi, to link paragraphs so they flow from one into another.
“In short, writers can make assumptions: did I get all these ideas on paper, did I explain this clearly? I don’t know. That’s why I need an editor.”
Check out Cathie’s site, CathieAndrew.com. She has a 7-Step Program: “Writing To Make Money,” as well as some wonderful e-books: “Wellspring-How To Write Your Memoirs” and “Traditional Cookbook.”