It has now been twelve years since I became a freelance book editor. Before that, I had edited for some twenty years, on a newspaper and for technical publications. When I launched as a freelance book editor, I started in the realm of academic publishing, and quickly added fiction and nonfiction to my repertoire.
Now I find that my fiction and nonfiction editing frequently includes coaching. I am not content with simply working with what the authors provide to me as a manuscript. I find that I am compelled to help them LEARN how to improve their writing, for the current manuscript and for future ones. They are always willing to learn.
The more I coach, the better I become as a coach and editor.
I lifted my head last week from a particularly challenging manuscript and realized, man, I’m really good at what I do! No brag, just fact.
For years, I’ve had a lingering notion that I am a bit of an imposter, that someone someday was going to point at me and call out, “Fake!” It’s a foolish notion, I know. I have the experience. I have the skills. I have more than a hundred books under my editing belt. But the thought niggled.
Now, it dawns on me that I have no doubts. After studying fiction writing and earning my degree in it, after teaching fiction writing at the university level, and now after editing/coaching fiction for more than a decade, I realize that editing fiction has become second-nature to me. I read a manuscript and immediately see how to improve it, and not just on a mechanical level. On the bigger picture level. My strengths are in creating characters and story/plot development. I’m also frighteningly good at creating evil/vile villains.
This is HUGE insight … Like I can finally toss aside my water-wings and swim across the English Channel.
Perhaps it helps that I am also back to writing my own fiction. I’m not sure what has brought about this epiphany, but I’ll embrace it.
Of course, I have more to learn, both as an editor and as a coach. I have more to attain. I won’t rest on my self-proclaimed laurels. But, my, it feels good to believe in myself and in what I have to offer to authors, aspiring or established.
SELF-DOUBT is BANISHED.