Writing this blog made me sick to my stomach. I often feel this way about blog writing. Because I don't like just throwing written words out there, willy-nilly. I like having editors. Blogging is just running around nude, not even getting dressed. And believe me, you don't want me streaking.
With all the recent talk of author power, hooray, publish-your-own-books, digital freedom, I'm going to temporarily crawl in my curmudgeonly corner. Yeah, I like freedom and I'm a longtime Mac head, videographer, photographer techno-geek. But, I WANT MY EDITORS! I want their counsel, their expertise, their push which makes the work better. I want their understanding umbrella, their picky questions, finding mistakes I did not see. My name and often an illustrator's name are on the books. But our editors (and designers and others) have made our work what it is. Just because we CAN wear all the hats and create something ourselves doesn't mean we should. Or that the work would be of comparable quality.
Authors and illustrators tend to remember, and relate, the times when they were right and editors were wrong. Yes, it happens. I still have a ghost words in my head, words that I sneak in at public readings even though they were cut from the final books. (Rebellious author moments!) But, oh, the improvements that have been made in my work by editors that pushed me. Better endings. Better wording. Deeper character. Better flow. I've learned so much from them over the years. I don't think enough readers appreciate the vast teams of people that work on each children's book. I'm not sitting in offices with these folks. But they are part of my daily work life. Bouncing text back and forth with them is productive, a satisfying, sometimes humorous, give-and-take. Hair-pulling hard work at times.
Recently, there were two places in a manuscript that were excellent. Yet whenever I read over them, I felt a faint tickle in my brain. The pieced flowed beautifully, so I sent it in. The manuscript returned from the editor. She had called me on each of those spots—pressing me, asking if something might somehow be better. I laughed to realize that she was echoing an instinct I'd had but couldn't follow without inquiry and encouragement.
Having a great editor on a project frees me to do what I do best—play with language, dig into concepts, explore, and experiment. Occasionally, I need reigning in. For a sometime picture book writer, I can get awfully wordy on occasion. Maybe a bit rambling. Oh, had you noticed that? Well, what do you expect? This is a BLOG, PEOPLE!
April Pulley Sayre
This month I also have a nonfiction blog post about animals that hop, hosted on the Under the Green Willow blog. It's linked to a my fiction book, If You're Hoppy, which was released this week. (Shock! Horror! She writes… fiction?) Rest assured, the text of the blog is nonfiction about animals that hop and getting kids/educators to expand how they think about categories. It also has some links to hoppy lemurs and a nifty origami frog. I hope you enjoy that one, as well.