the good, the bad, and the ugly about the writing life

Why I Hired an Editor–Part 2

image courtesy of usamedeniz and

image courtesy of usamedeniz and

Earlier this week, I explained how I met editor Chris Roerden, and how I felt when she told me what was wrong with my mystery manuscript (see Why I Hired an Editor–Part 1).

Fast forward to years passing (imagine the calendar pages flying on the wind ala a 1940’s film), editor Chris Roerden writes a book about the kinds of errors she spots in her work. The book is called, Don’t Murder Your Mystery. I meet Chris in person at Bouchercon in Madison, WI and buy her book.

I read Chris’ book, use it to make my second novel stronger, and finally summon up the courage to admit that I, with a BA and MA in English, need an editor. Of course, you know which editor I chose.

So Chris agrees to take on my MS. I make a final set of edits and send her the complete book—all 400-something pages. I wait. The waiting is good because I am afraid of what Chris will say. If Chris tells me that I don’t have “it,” whatever that elusive quality is that good fiction writers have, I am inclined to believe her. And my whole persona, not to mention my life, is based on the assumption that I am a writer. I have freelanced for a decade. Before that, I wrote for a college, a law firm, and a software company. Now I write for a large technology firm.

But my dream has always been to be a fiction writer—a mystery writer. I’ve worked toward that dream, in fits and starts, for most of my 53 years of life. If I cannot be a mystery writer, if I’m no good at it, I don’t have any spare dreams to realize.

I’ve spent my life believing that I wasn’t an “I wish I’d” kind of person. I have jumped into everything that interested me…with both feet. This attitude has often caused me to be poor and heart-broken, but I have few regrets. Except maybe that I should have gotten over myself sooner and hired Chris to look at my second novel. I wish I hadn’t taken so long to stop being a baby.

So, Chris emails that she has broken her hand and cannot even cut up her Thanksgiving turkey by herself. My manuscript will take longer to review. I am sympathetic and tell Chris to take her time. I can wait to hear if I’m any good at writing fiction.

Heck, I think maybe I can wait the rest of my life.

Tune in later this week to see what editor Chris Roerden tells me about my mystery manuscript, Death and the Motherlode.

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