I’m writing a book.
Actually, I’m well into the process and expect for it to be available in August. I have titled it Divorce (or Not): A Guide, and its 300+ pages will cover much of what I have pondered, and learned, professionally over the past 40 years. Each step in the process of conceiving, creating and honing this book has been rich with the gems I have uncovered about both how to approach such a project and, well, my own darned self. For anyone who has felt they wanted to write a book, but has not put fingertip to keyboard, here is a brief description of my experience.
1. Conception: Many of us have at least one book marinating inside our heads. If you have ever said, “I’d like to write a book,” then you’ve got one resting comfortably inside your cranium. That is step one.
2. Blurting: I finally goosed myself into writing when I sat down in April, 2014 and prepared a Table of Contents, which was a good outline for what I wanted to say. Then, I just blurted. I spent about five months simply getting it out of my head and into my computer. I knew it did not matter how it sounded because nobody was going to see it but me.
3. First Refinement Phase(s): Once out there, I started to laboriously review, reorganize and clean up what I had written. Again, this was for my eyes only.
4. First Feedback Phase: Once I felt okay with it, I sent my work product out to a handful of dear, and smart, friends for feedback. I was initially nervous about this step, but had recently bought a great book Thanks for the Feedback – The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well and it helped gird my loins for external comment on my baby. People were generous and spot-on with a number of their comments. In response, I put the book through a massive re-organization and re-write. I shared the new approach with a smaller group of people because, to be honest, I was afraid of burning people out. After all, it is quite the gift of time and energy to read someone else’s work and give thoughtful, cogent feedback. After positive comment, I was ready to find an editor.
5. Working With an Editor: Thus, the title of this blog post. A web search brought me to the site of the Northwest Independent Editors Guild, and after a fairly thorough vetting process I chose my current favorite person in the entire world (FPITEW) other than my wife and daughter (FPITEWOTMWAD), Jennifer D. Munro. Last week, I finished reviewing her comments and I don’t think a day went by that I failed to send her an ardent appreciative email. A good editor projects such care onto your creation. The process of improving the work product while maintaining the writer’s voice is challenging and if you are lucky, you will find that combination of skill and kindness. (It didn’t hurt that Jennifer liked my sense of humor.) I believe I am an excellent writer. I enjoy the process and for years have received uniformly positive feedback. I believe this affirmation gave me the confidence to embark on the project in the first place. Yet, I have learned a great deal about writing and the places I can improve, markedly, through Jennifer’s kind and rapier-sharp feedback. There were many places throughout my review of her “track changes” comments that I thought, “This comment is appropriate and helpful. I can imagine it having been made by someone with a harsher hand and instead of learning an important lesson I can use in the future, I would have been chagrined, embarrassed, defensive and dispirited. I’d had enough of that kind of treatment in my first year in law school many years ago.”
So here’s to you Jennifer Munro. Every cent I pay you for your service is the best money I ever spent.