Like a lot of writers, I wanted to find my own style between being “cutting edge” and being a “classic” writer. Before being published I was lost in those woods for quite a long time. Upon finishing my first novel, I realized I needed to find a good editor before that could happen.
Novels are their own beasts, and it takes a certain type to tame them. James was that person. James is the kind of editor who can masterfully program computers and as well learn the finer points of grammar in overseas boarding schools. Yes, at first, I worried that I had stumbled on a snob – that creature who can destroy the hopes of fledgling novelists with a few calculated words. Nothing further from the truth could have been the case.
That edgy individuality that is the reason many write, was not ignored, but praised by him. Yes, once we got down to the nitty-gritty of editing, he gently showed me how my overuse of the passive voice slowed the pace to a crawl, and that sentence structure, while appreciating creativity, is more like a four-lane highway than an off-road free for all.
Together we nurtured and pruned my manuscript. His attention to detail and perfectionism raised the bar at least ten notches, and though at times he could be brutal, the final product was polished to a sheen. When we were done, James told me to go out and celebrate. I had a winner. Within a few months I had my first publishing deal. I am very grateful to James for that. Now, James, I’s gots to tell ya, I have a new book coming soon and to warn you – it’s a little bit Mark Twain, but also a little bit E.E. Cummings. I’m not worried. James can make the magic discernible.