On Editing

A few months back I asked Lee, author of Mortal Ghost, about her stance on breaking free from editorial constraints, and turning to blooking for that freedom. Her opinion interested me and I wanted to see what comments her stance would gather. Over to Lee:

The usual rationale for professional editing is to make your work into ‘the best book possible’. This reminds me of taste tests to find the best chocolate ice cream: some like it sweet, some creamy, some filled with rough chunks of chocolate, some with a hint of bitter mocha. And what about the chef who decides to add a dash of hot pepper? Every editor will find something to ‘fix’ in your work, but I prefer to do the fixing myself. And no work is ever finished, just set aside. If I weren’t involved in a new novel, I’d be very tempted to tear Mortal Ghost apart and rewrite it from the foundations up.

I suppose you could say I’m not interested in producing a book, but in writing one: learning all that I can learn of technique – how the very best writers use the fundamentals – in order simultaneously to exploit and break free of their mastery. The questions which interest me are all about exploration. In effect, the only authentic editing is self-editing. I don’t care to be bound by the expectations of the marketplace, nor the conventions of a particular readership. How can I doubt that my work is flawed? It will always be flawed, for the job of the artist is to set themself ever newer, harder, more complex challenges.

Does this mean that I pay no attention to criticism? Not at all. I listen very carefully, even obsess about suggestions, and welcome incisive analysis. In the end, though, there is only learning by doing: in fact, learning by failing. And publishing online affords me that wonderful and absolutely essential freedom to fail.

L. Lee Lowe’s YA Fantasy Novel Mortal Ghost can be found here. She also blogs about writing at lowebrow.

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