The Editor

My first title for this blog post was, “A Day in the Life Of,” but at the last minute I changed it. I think the choice was made because there really is no “typical” day in my life. It’s one of the questions that authors are often asked in interviews, or at book readings, or on panels at literary festivals: “What’s a typical writing day like for you? Do you write every day at the same time? What are your habits?”

I always cringe when that questions is asked, because no, I don’t have a writing schedule. At all. It completely depends on where I am in the life of my current project(s). Take today, for example. I’m editing an anthology right now, and the deadline for essays to be in to me was April 15. Today is April 30, and I’m still waiting on the final five essays that are promised. I’ve already edited close to 70 essays (yes). I believe that once an author goes through the work of editing an anthology, she would never again be late sending in her essay to an editor, because of all the things that she now understands must happen to that essay before it becomes part of the manuscript, which is then edited again by the press, and gets a final look-see when galleys are sent out. I’ve already put the manuscript together—including the Foreword, Introduction, Acknowledgments, Table of Contents, essays I have already edited, Afterword, and contributor bios. So today, as I wait, I consider what other work I can be doing. As an author. As a writer. After all, this is my day job.

My other current project is a short story collection, and I’m in a “waiting” position with it as well. I’ve finished edits on the first galleys. The cover has been chosen. Blurbs are in. And now I’m waiting on ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) to send out to reviewers, literary festivals, bookstores, and competitions. Once my publicist creates a “tip sheet”—which will have the book cover and a blurb about the book and other info—she and I will send it to some of the same people who will receive ARCs. And “one day this week” the book will be up on Amazon for pre-order! Once these things happen, I’ll be up and running again with plenty of pre-marketing work to do. But not today. Today I’ve caught up. Someone once compared the writing and publishing life to the military—“hurry up, and wait.” So true.

Of course I could start writing something new. Another novel. Or another short story collection. But my brain is on such “mental alert” that any minute I’ll get an email with another essay to edit or more marketing work to do, and there will go my window for writing something new. I think I must have a more clearly defined window of leisure to start something new. So what am I doing this afternoon, while I wait? I’m doing the other thing that all serious writers should be doing: I’m READING! Much of what I choose to read is related to my work—either books that are similar to what I write or that will inform my work in some way. Or sometimes I read memoir just because I love it. Or spiritual books or self-help. But today I’m reading something I discovered on a blog that was sent to me in an email by Ashley Hasty: The Editor by Steven Rowley. And it’s amazing! I almost didn’t put it down to write this blog post, but even in the midst of enjoying the heck out of this book, my computer was calling out to me: “Do some work!” And so you are reading the result of my answering the call. Oh, and please visit the web site where I discovered The Editor: it’s HastyBookList.com, and in her April newsletter she reviewed The Editor, and I was hooked. Oh, and she is going to review my short story collection FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY in August, and include an interview, so stay tuned!

And speaking of my computer calling out to me . . . another essay just arrived in my inbox so I’m off and running to do more editing. It was nice taking a break to read and visit with y’all briefly. I’ll be back in a few days . . . unless I can’t tear myself away from reading The Editor!

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