Hands down, one of the most amazing things that has happened during my giant leap of faith is that God has quite literally brought the exact people in my path that I needed for every step of this journey of writing a book. And one of those people on one of those steps was my editor. God brought me Shari the Editor.
About 6 weeks into my new literary journey I had two friends, on separate days, ask me if I knew Shari. They explained that she was a talented professional writer and editor and suggested I call and meet with her for guidance. I politely declined, because I had been a writer for about a month and a half at that point and what help could she possibly give me? After all, I was working in my “GOD CALLING” — what would a woman with 20 plus years of writing experience possibly have to share with me that I didn’t already know?
A few days later a Facebook message from Shari. Even as stubborn as I can be, I realize when God is trying to tell me something: meet with Shari. Shari and I were “Facebook friends,” having met many years earlier at a party, but did not have a personal relationship. But we set a time for coffee to chat about writing and I was looking forward to meeting her, even though I did not need her guidance.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of the word editor I think of the person that is going to read what you wrote, check your spelling, add a few commas and maybe fix the occasional run-on sentence. In addition to my ideas of what an editor did, I also had ideas of what a female editor should look like: hair in a low bun (or maybe straight and unbrushed), pasty white skin because she never goes in the sun with all of the reading she does, eyeglasses worn low on her nose, and out of style, frumpy clothing. Single too, because again, she is reading all the time.
In fact, none of that is correct. Not what an editor does or what Shari the Editor looks like.
She’s beautiful, yep I know, I just shattered your “editor visual” didn’t I? She has a fabulous figure and a glowing tan that are added bonuses as a result of her daily runs. (Hers are the kind you do with your legs, not the kind of errand runs I do with a car; different but almost totally the same). She’s a busy mom, married and she always has a fresh, naturally beautiful appearance.
Truthfully, there was a part of me that wanted to really dislike her but I just couldn’t, she was so kind and wonderful.
But this was before she edited my first Chapter. Once she put her paws on my work, to say I disliked her would be a HUGE understatement.
We had our first little get together at Panera; we talked for hours and I adored her. I still didn’t really understand what she did but agreed to give her one of my incredible chapters. A few days later, she emailed it back. I was shocked. There were changes and corrections all over it. What in the heck? Didn’t she know good writing when she saw it? After all, I’d been a writer for almost 7 weeks now and GOD had called me to it so it must be good.
I decided to print the original and her ridiculous edited version and read them both to my husband so that he could validate my every thought and feeling. “Craig, sit down, I want to read these to you. You have to listen very carefully and tell me which one is better.” I didn’t need to tell him which one was mine, I knew he would choose wisely.
He sat, he listened very intently, and then he said, “I couldn’t tell much difference but I guess the second one flowed better.”
WHAT? They were so different that it was as if one was in English and one in German, hers was the German one. I was angry at him, angry at this Shari for being so bad at her craft and angry at the realization that I was going to have to do this alone. I headed to bed for the night and would decide how to tell Shari she was a bad editor in the morning.
The next morning I read Shari’s revisions again. They started to really make sense and things DID sound a little better. I read it 13 more times until I finally came to the realization that Shari the Editor knew what she was doing, and maybe, just maybe, I could use a little help.
We met again, talked for hours and I knew that I was meant to work with her. It felt that this was an ordained relationship from the start. She was everything I was not and I needed her gifts (not the running ones, the writing one).
We agreed that we would work together chapter to chapter rather than waiting until the book was done. I did this for no other reason than the thought of writing an entire book and then having an editor want to make tons of changes was more than I could mentally and emotionally handle.
In the following weeks, I learn to refrain from throwing the computer across the room every time she sent a document back with edits. I would send a nice clean page with pretty black words and she would return a page covered in red marks that filled the white space on the ENTIRE page. It took a few weeks to understand she was helping, not condemning me as a writer. I hated being corrected.
But as each day passed I realized more and more what a gift Shari was. I know now that the Unstoppable Joy book would not be what it is today without her and, to be honest, I’m not even sure I would have completed it, God calling or not.
I am still not clear on what an editor does but I can tell you what mine does. She makes me better. She makes my writing go to a deeper level, she coaches and guides me, she cries with me as I talk through the hard chapters and she sincerely feels the wins with me. Shari gives me grace, often.
No one else but Shari and Dawn will have walked this Unstoppable Joy path. It is unique to the two of us, not my husband, my best girlfriends or even my mom will have gone through what we have together. This journey, this story, will always be ours alone. I don’t believe anyone else could have done what she has done. Shari brought her gifts of writing but most of all, her gifts of kindness, grace, her willingness to feel deeply with me, cry with me and laugh with me on many occasions.
Shari is my editor and together we will bring Unstoppable Joy to the world one day soon. But most of all, in Shari, God gave me a friend and I will never write a book without her.