Thursday, November 16, 2006

More than words on a page. . .

An editor deals in words. Sentences. Paragraphs. Punctuation. These are the tools of our trade. But an editor must be more than a word custodian, cleaning up the verbiage clutter and trashing descriptive debris. If we are doing our jobs right, our responsibilities go far beyond spit shining and primping a story before it makes a publishing debut.

We are bridge-builders.

The thought makes me swallow hard. Breathe deep. Gulp.

The bridges we build are not only those that carry a work of fiction from manuscript to printed page. First, an editor must build a bridge of communication and cross over to an amiable working relationship with the author. At times, this can feel like I’m wobbling across a rope bridge over a death-deep chasm. How hard is too hard to push? Should I ask for revisions again or just let it slide this time? When do I cross the line from editor to unwelcome ghostwriter? I must say, though, I’ve been oh-so blessed and pleasantly surprised by the number of true friendships that have sprung from my editor/author connections in the past year. We are more like family than business associates, crying with each other when one is hurting; sharing high-fives and hallelujahs when one is on top of the world.

Then there’s that bridge we help build that connects author to reader. Words are vehicles, which convey a reader into the unseen world of an author’s energy and spirit, fears and insights, heart and soul. When the right “connection” is made, words transcend the physical dimension of ink on paper to carry the reader to another realm. An editor is charged with the task of filling in the author’s occasional pothole and smoothing over any bumps in the road that might detour the reader from her emotional adventure.

To tell you the truth, I don’t know that I trust my bridge-building abilities just yet. (Don’t tell my authors, but they might be wise to think twice before trusting their full weight on a bridge constructed by this rookie.)

Swallow hard. Breathe deep. Gulp.

Now, link arms with me. Together, let’s step out on faith—not faith in my humble abilities, but faith in the Master Bridge Builder and his rock-solid construction plans.


Kim S. said...

Susan, your word-painting is second only to your beautiful spirit and smile. I appreciate you!
God bless your efforts muchly~Kim

Mary said...

Hi, Susan. I think each of you needs your own comment, right? I can't CAN'T CAN'T!!!!!!!! believe all three of you are my acquiring editors. I love you guys.

SusieMay said...

Susan, you are the supreme bridge builder, the one I would trust with all my work! I'm so glad I locked arms with you! Susan May Warren

SusieMay said...

Susan, you are the master bridge builder! I'd lock arms with you any day. *g*

Carrie said...

Hi Susan,

I like the bridge analogy. It's a great one to help us think about that editor-author relationship. You have been on both sides of the that is a great advantage for you. Thanks for all you do for us there at Barbour. Carrie T.

Candice Speare said...

Okay, everyone has already said the stuff I wanted to say. Like, I love your word-painting. And the bridge analogy. I feel privileged that you are my editor and friend. I'm learning so much from you!!! Candice

Candice said...

Everything I wanted to say has already been said! Like, what a good word painter you are. And how I loved the bridge building analogy. I'm privileged to have you for my editor. I'm learning so much from you!! Candice

Rhonda Gibson said...


Working with you has been a wonderful learning experience. I love our bridge of friends

Gail said...

HI Susan - Great idea. So you're building bridges. Sounds like a great book tile. Can I borrow it?

Gail Gaymer Martin

Jeri Odell said...


What a wonderful and fun idea for the three Barbie girls to share their lives and hearts. Hugs to you my bridge building buddy!

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Susan, you truly are as much a good friend as you are an excellent editor. I've loved having you polish my work. I hope to have a cozy proposal ready for you early next year.
What fun to have all three of you on this wonderful blog.

Dana Mentink said...

I am blessed that you built a bridge for me to cross. Dana

Colleen Coble said...

Editors are geniuses! A smart author takes everything in the editor says and listens as though their words are gold. Because they are!

Great blog!

eileen said...

How fun to get to meet and greet my new editors! And with Him as our pillars, no bridge is too high! Thanks for inviting us in.

Susan said...

Wow, this is way fun! I had no idea I'd get POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT if I posted a blog! I would have dipped my toe in this water long ago if they'd told me there were perks! Thanks, all you Barbie Dolls.

Nancy Mehl said...


We have barely started across our bridge, but I already feel blessed beyond measure to make this trip with you.

You're a gem. The kind of editor writers dream about. I love your insight and appreciate the way you fill those frequent potholes with love, respect, and prayer.

I'm excited about this journey!

God bless you,

Nancy Mehl

S. Dionne Moore said...

I'm your number one fan!

You took me from the pages of a manuscript and gave me an audience to watch as I solve my first murder, not to mention the financial ability to get these old bunions surgically removed.

LaTisha Barnhart
Star of Murder on the Ol' Bunions

Tiff/Amber Miller said...

Like others have said, each of y'all deserve your own comment. :) And Susan, your word painting in your post is extraordinary. What a picture. Love the bridge analogy. Glad to hear you're having fun.

And if you ever doubt the positive reinforcement you'll get from this? Just think of ACFW conferences. :)

David said...

Hi, Honey,

I noticed you're falling behind Becky in the number of comments you've received. I just want to be supportive.



David said...

Hi Honey,

It's me again. Just for a little insurance.

Love, David

Lisa said...

Aw, Susan, don't sell yourself short! You're an awesome editor, one I count myself priviledged and pleased to be able to work with.

Janice Thompson said...

Beautiful post, honey. And I'm tickled that you've "built a bridge" for me. More tickled than you'll ever know. I'm the one swallowing hard. And I'm so grateful. :) - Janice

Sandra Robbins said...

Hey Susan. I was out of town yesterday and missed the unveiling of the blog. It looks great. I think this is a wonderful idea.

Sandra Robbins

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan!
How neat to see the three of you here. You edited my very first novella for Barbour and the second book in the series that novella started. You helped make them both better! I look forward to visiting with the three of you here.
Janet B

Janet Lee Barton

Jill Stengl said...

Hi Susan
I'll never forget the "warm fuzzies" you gave me about my Mackinac Island novella. I needed that positive feedback right then! Hope I can meet you one of these days and give you the hug you earned from me over a year ago. :-)
Jill Stengl

Christine Lynxwiler said...

I'm laughing so hard at David's comments and how in the world did you get away with Susie and Candice posting TWICE? Oh, and you actually posted once yourself? Way to go. I love the bridge analogy. Without you, my stories would just be out in the middle of the river, slowly sinking to the depths. Seriously, thanks for all you've done for me and all you mean to me. ~ Love, Chris