I’m in the process of designing a new website with the help of a very talented friend which means that this blog has been even more neglected than usual. But I wanted to put down a few words about Express Media and their recent Tracks program because they are doing such great things to support and develop young writers.
Last weekend saw Express Media bring Tracks to Canberra for a day-long program of workshops and panels designed to develop writers’ skills and understanding of publishing. My part in the day was to speak on the ‘Editing and Publishing: First Times and Best Practice’ panel alongside Duncan Felton (Grapple Publishing), Zoya Patel (Feminartsy) and Ashley Thomson (Homer). We unpacked the writer–editor relationship, the publishing process, and what to expect when working with an editor. We also managed to have a damn good time, as Josephine Cosgrove’s wonderful photos attest.
I won’t summarise the discussion here, but I will repeat one key point that new writers often struggle with simply because of lack of experience. The editing process shouldn’t be adversarial. A good editor is a chameleon, able to take on the author’s voice instead of imposing their own, and work with the author to make their book the very best that it can be. The process is a long conversation involving extensive back-and-forth. And a successful author–editor relationship will often result in a work that is even better than either the author or the editor imagined. That’s a satisfying outcome for everyone — author, editor, publisher and reader.
Random House’s Meredith Curnow sums it up this way: ‘I just hope that a writer can enter the editing relationship with an open heart and an open mind, but also confidence in their work and confidence in their voice because you never want to change the voice of a writer, you just want to help it be more available to more readers. Editors and publishers act as external readers — they represent the reading public.’
I’ll leave you with two of my favourite articles by Patrick Lenton (on his blog here) and Charlotte Wood (in the Sydney Review of Books here) that elaborate on the author–editor relationship. They are well worth reading, particularly for newer writers about to embark on the editing process.
Thanks again to Express Media, Gorman House Arts Centre and the ACT Writers Centre for producing such a fantastic event.