Thursday, February 18, 2016

What a Writer Can Learn from an Editor

SANDRA D. BRICKER was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles for 15+ years where she attended school to learn screenwriting and eventually taught the craft for several semesters. When she put Hollywood in the rearview mirror and headed across the country to take care of her mom until she passed away, she traded her scripts for books, and a best-selling, award-winning author of LIVE-OUT-LOUD fiction for the inspirational market was born. Sandie is best known for her Another Emma Rae Creation and Jessie Stanton series for Abingdon Press, and her 2015 novel Moments of Truth has been nominated for a 2016 Inspy Award. Sandie took home ACFW’s Editor of the Year award last year for her work as managing editor of Bling!, an edgy romance imprint for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. As an ovarian cancer survivor, she also gears time and effort toward raising awareness and funds for research, diagnostics and a cure.

What a Writer Can Learn from an Editor

I’m often asked when I knew I wanted to be a writer, and my reply is often the same: “At birth.” The answer is only partially tongue-in-cheek because I truly can’t remember a time when I didn’t know writing was part of my DNA. I wrote my first short story in the 6th grade; I was published for the first time as a high school senior; I submitted my first novel before the age of 23; and I’d optioned four screenplays before my 30th birthday. Since finding my Christian faith, I’ve taken great comfort in the idea that, at time of creation, my Father already knew who I was going to be. I’ve often imagined Him whispering “Writer” into my ear before I even emerged from my mother’s womb. That calling was never really in question, and I’ve spent most of my adult life chasing it. First through screenwriting, and then through publishing as well.

For the last two years, I’ve floated a little. Frustrated by the many challenges and conundrums in my own writing career, I turned my focus to the careers of others. After corporate and freelance editorial work over the years, I accepted a position with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas to start a new imprint of romantic fiction for them called Bling Romance. I’ve always been excited about the opportunity to mentor and assist aspiring authors when the chance arose, so playing a part in someone’s road to publication was almost too appealing to resist. But the problem with taking a side trip from our calling is that, when you’re knee-deep in the new adventure, losing sight of your purpose is a very real possibility.

I’ve come to firmly believe that everything that happens in life is part of God’s plan for that person. He certainly doesn’t inflict the terrible things – like sickness, the death of a loved one, or even a traffic accident – but in His ultimate wisdom and omnipotence, I know He can and does use those situations to shape and teach us. Case in point: When I look back on my experience with ovarian cancer, I know for certain that everything I went through at that time changed me for the better. Strange but true.

Once I came up for air and started to hear the whispering in my ear again – “Writer” – I spent some significant time in prayer to figure out why I had turned away from what I knew to be my purpose … which led to the inevitable questions: What should I do next? and What have I learned from this time?  

The first one was easy. What do I do next? Write something! That’s what writers do. They write. With the third and final installment of my Jessie Stanton series – From Bags to Riches – due out in March, I’m now free to concentrate on several exciting new writing projects … and I’ve already started. The experience is exhilarating and I’m reminded why I’ve always loved it so much.

What have I learned from the experience that will help me in following my calling? That one’s not quite as simple, but I’ve come up with three primary things that I’ll be keeping in mind as a writer, things I might not have been quite so “enlightened” about two years ago. Want me to share?

1.  Taking on the role of managing editor has given me a perspective that a submitting writer can never fully gain without stepping into someone else’s shoes. Writers – especially fiction writers! – are prone to creating scenarios in their own minds to explain delays, incomplete communications, and rejections from editors at the houses they’re chasing. Very often, an editor’s delays and distractions have far less to do with that writer than about simply managing their own workload.

2. Not every writer is also gifted with the ability to edit and, if not, they shouldn’t be afraid to get some help … and those of us who are natural editors need to make the most of it. Spelling mistakes, typographical errors, lack of punctuation – If we take the time to pay special attention to these issues before submitting to an agent or an editor, they’re going to appreciate the effort. And yes, they will notice! 

3.  There is so much more to the publishing process than writing a great story. There are production schedules, editorial mishaps, cover design challenges, even political hiccups within the publishing house, all of which have the potential to make the road to publication a bumpy one. My editorial experience has spoken to the writer in me, and I think I’ve learned to be far more understanding, to keep my expectations in check, and to allow for U-turns when they’re thrust upon me.

So there you have it. The next time you come across a reference to Romans 8:28, I hope you’ll read it with the fresh perspective of a writer. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
                                                                                                    
If you have the talent and the drive to write, I believe it’s probably because God put it into your heart to do it. In fact, quite possibly if you really think about it, you can recall a surreal moment when you’re almost certain you heard a soft, distinct whisper from a familiar voice: “Writer.”

From Bags to Riches
Jessie Hart worked so hard to put her Louisiana roots in the rearview mirror and her Adornments boutique on the map. So when renegade “husband” Jack turns up again, the new and improved Jessie catches his attention. As he fights through his residual legal battles, he makes every effort to win her back and marry her for real this time... before Danny gets the chance.

When a celebrity stylist with her own reality show makes Adornments a hot spot, Jessie’s hard work is finally paying off. But amid award shows and photo shoots, Jessie’s beloved grandfather is diagnosed with cancer and she’s nudged back to the Louisiana roots she worked so hard to escape. Now, in her quest to find the success, true love, and faith that has always eluded her, will God really lead her right back home?

3 comments:

Lillian Humphries said...

I enjoyed reading this article. Most of all, I can tell by your picture and how you write that you are a fun person that loves life. Continue to let that show in all aspects of your journey. I look forward to picking up one of your books.

Richard Mabry said...

Sandie, enjoyed getting to know more about your background. And I agree with your statements about editing--if you have a talent for it, great. If not, don't be afraid to get help. It's not only normal, it's human. Nothing is produced in a vacuum, even a book.

Normandie Fischer said...

Lovely article, Sandie. Good for you for being able to manage the full-time editing along with full-time writing. I couldn't, so I quit the one to focus on the other!

Blessings.