Word ownership . . .
One of the things I agonise most about as I revise, is how much attention to pay to the editorial reports that come through from my assessment agency. I mean I obviously take them seriously because they cost me a considerable amount of money. But the things that concern me are how much of my voice should I/could I retain? How much of MY story should I/could I change? I am a descriptive writer, have always been and it is one of the points I am pulled up on constantly. How much of that style could I/should I alter?
I’m an ingénue, I’m a new author, I’m lacking in confidence and knowledge, therefore I place a great deal of weight on professional opinion from people I trust. BUT, I am also the owner of my story in more ways than just legal copyright. So what to do?
As I begin to sit down this week with the reports and start to revise, words have come through on the net that are fortuitous and timely. From Jennifer R Hubbard.
She said: ‘If I make a change in a manuscript with my name on it, I own that change.
She goes on: ‘I’m not urging writers to fight over every comma (my experience with copy edits proved I am no expert on commas and should not take a stand on them anyway). And I’m not talking about ignoring critique out of some misguided belief that the writer is always right and the words as first laid on the page shall never be altered. I’m talking about making sure the big, important issues are right. The ending. The theme. The tone. The presence or absence of certain characters. The direction of the plot. Sometimes that means incorporating the wise advice of others, and sometimes that means incorporating it but with a sideways twist, and sometimes that means sticking with my original words. I just have to know that whatever I do, I can stand behind it.
So the way I see it, any change or not that is made, must be able to backed confidently to stand on its own merits in front of agent, publisher, reader and reviewer. But most importantly, it has to stand on its merits with me, and that’s till a pretty tough call.