Yesterday I finally received the long-awaited, marked-up manuscript which will guide me through the next draft of my upcoming verse novel. Some of my editor's notes were simple blue scribbles that meandered around words and phrases like a gentle whispering stream; some pages were left untouched or marked with a single, encouraging word or symbol. But on many pages, editorial comments filled the empty space like blocks of a summer sky - mostly blue but dappled with airy white clouds.
Do you have to do everything your editor says? my son asked. It's a question I'm often asked by students when I visit their schools. The answer is simple. I don't need to follow every suggestion but I long ago discovered that my editor's comments challenge me to dig deeper and always enrich my story.
I might have written this before, but working with a good editor is like hiking through the forest with an inquisitive friend. By myself, I sometimes hurry ahead, carelessly climbing over rocks, not noticing wildflowers, eager to get to the end of the trail. But a good editor - a good friend - encourages me to slow down - did you peek under that rock? did you see that forgotten path? let's linger awhile...
Sometimes we turn over a rock and find nothing but a dusty imprint; other times we discover an entire squiggling, wiggling world. Sometimes a path leads nowhere; more often it leads to new discoveries and more hidden trails.
Rewriting has become one of my favorite steps in the writing process... I've blue streams to follow, large blocks of dappled sky to explore, and more than one overlooked path to wander.