The honour of editing stories
I’m always immersed in stories. The ones printed between the covers of a book, already published and out in the world. The ones my kids, husband and friends tell me about their days. The ones in my head. The ones in my notebook and my computer files.
And then there are the ones I edit, usually self-published books. I’ve had the privilege of editing and proofreading a range of stories, some recently published or almost there.
A few are memoirs, and what a privilege it is to help shape someone’s account of their life. It’s not an easy thing to shape a life, and many writers choose to tell their stories in fragments – small sections of the important situations, people and decisions that made up their days. Others like to do it chronologically, beginning with their early life, schooling, work and family with a more intense focus on the important events.
It doesn’t matter how it’s written or that some of the details are blurry. It is such an amazing legacy, to give families stories that have been passed down for generations or stories that may have been forgotten otherwise.
Other books are written by people who may not consider themselves a writer, but yet have produced a book. Often there is a strong urge to share information with others, whether it’s about health, wellness, running a business or encouraging readers to be the best version of themselves.
I have so much respect for anyone who watches less television, rises earlier, stays up later, says no to invitations, avoids social media, writes on the train or in their lunch break – all to write their story. To create instead of consume – so admirable.
All writers express and reveal themselves through their writing, and I love getting to know the authors through their choice of vocabulary and sentence length, colloquial language or formal dialogue, descriptive language or humorous observations.
Michael Hanrahan and his partner Anna Clemann run Publish Central and take writers of many different subjects through the process of planning, writing and publishing a book. They are an amazing team – I’m grateful they’ve sent so many interesting manuscripts (some with challenges!) my way.
Everyone has a story. Yesterday as I was driving in the rain, I noticed a man in a raincoat, hood pulled up, pushing his grandchild in a pram with a plastic cover. There were two expressions on the man’s face – he grimaced, possibly as a drop of rain ran down his neck or water splashed from the gutter AND then he smiled at his grandchild with a wide mouth and expressive eyes full of love. Grimace, smile, grimace, smile. Rain, love, rain, love. Now there’s a story!