Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Now I know how editors feel

Karma is a witch. Well, that's the PG version, anyway.

Last night I wound up working with The Kiddo on an assignment for her class that drove me nuts. It seemed simple enough on the face of it: write a movie script about a boomtown (they're reading Boom Town in their class). But then I had to explain what a script looked like, and get her to write a story about it.

When she wrote it, I saw she had no clue about why a boomtown became a boomtown. I'm a writer, right? So I tried to help her by asking questions to focus on the holes in her story ... and she cried and said she had to start all over.

I felt like a heel.

After supper, I realized that my attempts to define a script had failed. I pulled out a copy of My Fair Lady (very dog-chewed because my now-in-doggie-heaven Lab had devoured it). The Kiddo and I read over it, with her taking Eliza's part and me doing my best Higgins impersonation. She laughed a lot and wants me to finish it up for her.

So then we went back to the script idea, and The Kiddo scrapped what she had and began acting out the play. I wrote down the lines she came up with -- it was pretty funny, and a little more polished than a teacher would believe came from an 8-year-old. She had to incorporate her vocabulary words in it, and that took some doing.

We got done about 9:30 (after doing a focus group presentation on the DH and a friend of the family). At that point, she wanted us to do a performance for my sister. So I called her up and put us on speaker phone and we did a radio broadcast. It was a lot of work, but The Kiddo had fun, and she learned more than she would have using the traditional approach.

I went to bed thinking that this must be how it is for editors and the agents who edit for their clients (not all do, from what I understand.) How do you tactfully say, "Um, this needs work," without crushing the dreams and aspirations of the writer? It doesn't help that we writers tend to be thin-skinned -- I have grown tougher skin over my writing career, but it still hurts when a VIR (very important reader) doesn't get what you're trying to accomplish.

My poor editor. I think she deserves a hug and a drink, and not necessarily in that order!

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Poor Kate! But sounds like all worked out in the end :)

I think the difference for editors is they don't personally know the people whose dreams they're crushing -- makes it a bit easier. Whereas you were thinking, "God, gotta be careful here, or she'll be in very expensive therapy for the next ten years of her life!"