The Other Side of the Table

the other side of the table
the other side of the table

I did it. I sent my writing to an editor last month. Yes, even a professional editor needs another perspective. When we become too close to our own writing, it’s like we can’t see it anymore. A good editor can help us see it more clearly.

I had become so muddled in my manuscript that I wasn’t even able to describe what type of editing I was looking for. I knew what I wanted to ask for — just a quick style and copy edit — because I wanted to save money by doing the bigger work myself. I am a member of Editors Canada, an organization that helps connect writers with editors, and editors with employment. I browsed the member descriptions on the website and found an editor in my province whom I thought I might like to work with. I had plans to attend an event in Vancouver and I noticed that her name was on the list to also attend. Perfect.

We had a good chat at the event and she offered to do a sample edit for me, so I gathered up a few bits and sent them off to her in a hurry. That’s when the panic and embarrassment kicked in. I knew what I had sent her required way more than a style and copy edit. I wasn’t happy with the working title of my book and I had no handle on what the theme really was. So while I waited for her to start the sample, I worked and worked to produce something with a little more structure, and I was able to re-send my sample with a new book title and theme, along with an admission that the work still needed a substantive edit to help the stories fit together better. Having a potential editor do a sample edit is a great way for both parties to discover how the other person works.

This turned out to be a successful pairing, and I received her full report last week. I was thrilled with her stylistic edit suggestions, and she laid out a new structure that combined several of my smaller pieces in an efficient and effective way. I was still left with some big questions to ask myself about the structure of the theme and the naming of the individual chapters. I wrote the new outline on paper and Mark (my husband) gave me some big-picture feedback. I did some research and went back to Mark for more feedback. I have now restructured the chapters to better reflect the theme of the book.

I can hardly believe how much my manuscript has transformed in the process. But there is still work to do. With a new structure in place, it is necessary to re-write parts of many chapters. This will take place over the coming weeks and while it was a small struggle to be on this side of the table (as the writer) during the restructuring, I am looking forward to the next round of writing as well as re-naming the chapters.

In the meantime, we’ve contracted a designer to come up with some concepts for the front cover. I hope to be revealing the cover and the book title very soon, but I will also try to remain patient for the process to unfold. There are so many layers!


  1. Sounds like you’re on that special learning curve that requires crampons and ropes. Don’t look down! As Charles Bukowski says, “If you’re going to try, go all the way, otherwise don’t even start.” That’s my mantra. I seem to need it as a mantra more and more every day. Isn’t writing fun.


    1. PJ, Yes, I am appreciating assistance over the difficult part of the climb … and I’m not looking down or back. The peak is in view now!


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