Connecting and working with the right editor is joy, pure joy, a writer’s muse, a gift from the gods. The right partner can make you not only a better writer, but a braver one as well. Having an honest broker who believes in you and the words you put on the page — but who also tells you, gently and constructively, when you’ve gone astray — allows a writer to take chances.
The editing gods lead me directly, without passing go, to Annie Tucker. Sensitive and sage, sincere and smart, Annie had my and my story’s interests at heart and reviewed my writing wisely. She asked careful questions, challenged what I wrote and examined how I wrote it. Over the six months we worked together, she became a trusted friend and ally, but not so close that she couldn’t tell me the truth for fear of hurting my feelings. Writers know it’s all about “the voice,” and good editors know this as well. Annie came to appreciate my writing voice and did all she could to drive me to enhance it. Her mission was clear from the beginning: to help me tell a genuine and compelling travel tale for readers. She enlightened me to the sad fact that audiences are always looking for reasons to give up on a narrative and that my job as a writer is to thwart reader desertion by making sure they always want more.
Like any effective relationship, a writer’s with her editor should make her world better.
And so it was with Annie. I looked forward every week to our half-hour calls, when she would gently make suggestions about the 5,000-word segment I’d sent her the week before, yet be perfectly clear about her point. Authors want others to read their writing and editors want the same, so there’s little time for coddling when you’re an editor and no room for defensiveness when you’re a writer. An enviable aspect of being a writer is that you can always edit, always revise, always enhance to better articulate those feelings and experiences that defy facile description. And while writers write first drafts, knowing what they want to say, word by word and line by line, editors instinctively recognize when clarification is in order. My editor, my Jiminy Cricket, whispered in my ear and was my clarification companion on my book-writing journey. Thank you, always thank you, Annie Tucker.