Saturday, August 15, 2015

Edit Is A Four Letter Word

This week my cyber-sister's book came out. I asked Glynis a few questions about the book and her other writing.

Edit is a four-letter word! Where did you get that title from?
Don’t laugh but the title literally popped into my head one night. I liked it and thought I’d try to use it for an article for Writers’ Forum. Then the book idea came along.

This is your first book. Where did the idea come from?
 I noticed on the Compass Books Facebook page that Suzanne Ruthven wanted a book on editing. I’d been toying with the idea of combining some of my Writers’ Forum articles into an eBook and realized 25,000 words wasn’t impossible. I thought at that stage I could use some of my articles. This didn’t eventuate but the thought helped me believe it was do-able.

Did you enjoy writing it or was it hard work?
I loved doing the interviews, discovering all the different ways other writers go about editing.
And it was nice spending time at our beach house every month to write a chapter. Did you notice the sand between the pages?
But I hit the middle of book slump I’ve heard novelists talk about. A couple of very hard chapters stopped me in my tracks for a while.

You have the credentials to write about editing. You’ve certainly sold enough short stories. Which was your best year and how many did you sell?
2011 is my record year with 57 stories sold. There’s still a glimmer of hope in my eye that this record will be toppled. The difference now is that there are fewer markets and also I’m spending more time writing non-fiction than I used to.

And how much editing do you do on your short stories before sending them out into the world?
There are a few which seem to arrive in my brain exactly how I want them to be. I’ll keep them at least several days because there’s always something that jumps out at me by then. But usually just a few words or a piece of punctuation.
Other stories get chopped and changed a dozen times before I feel they’re ready to go out.
Once I’m happy with a story I then need to make sure it’s right for the different markets I send to. So I’ll end up with 750, 1200 and 1500 word versions of the same story, for example.

When writing Edit Is A Four Letter Word, how much did you learn along the way?
Far more than I expected, to be honest. I think the biggest lesson was to stop counting the edits and just get on with it. What does it matter how many times we have to read something?
I found it validating and reassuring to hear of best-selling authors agonising over their work. Seeing mistakes when it’s too late to make changes. Feeling unsure.
Another big lesson was knowing when to let go.
The material I gathered from other writers contained the lessons I needed for editing my own book. It couldn’t have worked out better really.

What did it feel like when that parcel of books arrived and you first saw a copy, in the flesh?  
A truck pulled up one morning as we were on the veranda having coffee. We were puzzled when a courier came in holding a heavy white sack. It took a while for it to register that these were copies of my book. I held one – and was still holding it at bedtime. It’s still sitting on my bedside table.

Any plans for more books?
I’d love another project like this. One I could work on for a week every month, alongside articles and short stories. So I’ll be keeping my eyes open for opportunities. And if any other titles pop into my brain during the night I’ll write them down again.


  1. Great interview - thank you Lynne and Glynis. I love how the title just popped into your head and I'm so glad you wrote the book. I treasure my copy - it is full of helpful advice and tips.
    It must have been a wonderful feeling when the books arrived xx

    1. The book is still sitting on the dressing table, assuring me it's real : - )

  2. Enjoyed reading this, Lynne and Glynis - thank you.

  3. I really enjoyed this interview. I remember being so impressed the first time I saw the of those things you wish you'd thought of yourself. And a fabulous cover too. Good luck with it, Glynis, and thanks to both of you

  4. Great interview and I can picture you holding on to the book all day, I'd be holding it in my sleep as well. Hope another idea pops in there soon. Here's one for you --- Punctuation Junkie......

  5. Have to say this suggestion made me groan. I think a second book would be quite different