My husband is an extraordinary editor. I’m not even sure how (apart from his giant brain of course) he got to be so. Maybe it comes from his years as a university tutor where he spent hours covering the diatribes of desperate film students with slashes of red ink. Who knows? The fact of the matter is he’s MY editor and I’m extremely lucky.
CJ has been editing my writing for as long as I’ve known him. I recognised his God-given talent as soon as I met him. (I have the gift of being able to immediately recognise what other people have that I need.) Oh yes. He was editing me long before we got together romantically. [Maybe that’s what brought us together, she muses… he realised she’d never make it in the cut-throat literary world without him…dear God…poor man never had a chance…]
Since finishing the book and moving to Melbourne I’ve had a lot of time alone at home (I know. I hear you. But get over it. One day I’ll be a mother and working full-time and would kill for half an hour alone too. But I’m not, so just deal with it) and I’ve been working hard on some new short stories and have come to realise that because CJ is a super-editing-freak, I’ve gotten lazy. (Dear God, I hope he doesn’t read this or he might stop baking and doing the shopping and cleaning the bathroom and working to support me, just to teach me a lesson about giving and all that special, couple stuff, when really, everyone knows it should always be about me.) (I really must stop writing half my posts in brackets.) Yes, lazy. I’ll write something that’s a tad sloppy, a bit awkward, you know, and I’ll look over it, put a nanosecond of thought into a better way of doing it, and then part of me thinks, well, CJ’ll fix this, I’ll just press on.
I know. I feel so cleansed just getting that out.
But here’s the wondrous thing! I’ve stopped doing that and I swear to God, I’m getting smarter! I’ll print off a first draft for CJ to read, while I do a re-write, then I read CJ’s edits and they’re the same as my re-writes! You see? I’m getting smarter! Okay, seriously now, my point is that I’m getting better at self-editing, and self-editing is hard. Really, really hard. I can edit someone else’s work and feel as smart as CJ, no problem. But my own? And it feels so great to have finally surrendered my precious (and Bionic-Woman-like) grip on my words and learnt to honour the story, which, by the way, has nothing to do with the writer. The story just is and it’s the writer’s job to honour it, not by over-dressing it in frills and flounces, but by stripping it back to its most raw and delicate self. THAT’s what I’ve learnt.
NB: CJ really does work full-time, do the food shopping, bakes (and I mean BAKES, like, you know, impressive shit), clean the bathroom, puts the toilet seat down, AND edits my every word. Please forward all hate mail to simonne(at)simonnemichellewells(dot)com