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Island Life, Word Birds & process #13

Yesterday I embraced two milestones. It was four months since Ghostbird was published and I submitted the third draft of my new story to my editor. The reasons I failed to mark the day here (as my Sunday blog post) are also two-fold: I was finalising said draft and then attending another splendid workshop under the auspices of Honno – my publisher.

Regarding the first – let the nail-biting commence.

The second part of the day  involved one of the most useful workshops I’ve been to in a while. Led by Katherine Stansfield (author of The Visitor & a poetry collection  called Playing House) it focused on editing. At this stage in my own process, timely to say the least. Having been through it once, as the workshop progressed I realised it was less about learning anything new (although I absolutely did!) and more about affirmation. Recognising that the way I’ve been doing things is pretty much okay, because there is no ‘right’ way.

There are however a number of useful guidelines which as a writer I have learned I would be a fool to ignore. Not least, if you have a good editor, listen to her.

Even before I properly understood what copy edits or line edits were, I knew what kind of a self-editor I was. (Those of you familiar with this blog know too: I ‘edit-as-I-go’ and #pfft frankly!) In the first instance, each writer has to take a great deal of responsibility for her own editing process. And if she is fortunate enough to have a generous editor on her side, it makes the experience one of discovery and learning. So it proved for me throughout the superb editing of Ghostbird. My fledgling story emerged – a small bird with her wings fluffed up, ready to fly.

Yesterday, Katherine’s major gift to us was her generosity. It takes a brave author to expose the more daunting aspects of her road to publication in order to illustrate a workshop. Although her third book has now been accepted by a well-known house, it hasn’t been an easy road. She shared the ups and downs (including scary emails from her agent!) and gave us the nuts and bolts of her process.

I recognised a lot of what Katherine shared. This is the other strand of the affirmation. Knowing the slog is worth it and throughout the editing process, from pitch to publication as it were, most writers have similar experiences.

Your Moment of Cliché: It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

Huge thanks to Katherine and as ever to Honno – the Welsh Women’s Press.

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