Today I read a very good post about why editors are important. It connects to a bunch of thoughts I’ve been having lately about being able to conceptualize technique.
I am a person who does not learn skills well through trial and error. This applies especially to artistic skills. When I’m learning to paint, I can tell I’m doing something wrong when my effects don’t turn out well. ("Well" so often means "as good as Drew’s." This is an unfair comparison, but also an inevitable one when my stuff has to sit in the pretty glass case right next to his.)
I can experiment, I can try different things, but only rarely will I figure out what I’m doing wrong. I’ll just get frustrated, and be unhappy, and still paint badly. The end.
If I can find someone to explain technique to me, however, I’ll be able to visualize what is wrong. And once I can see it, I can fix it. All the work after that is easy. (Luckily, Drew seems to have endless patience with my sitting next to his table pointing and saying, "but HOW did you do that?"
I’m the same way with writing. I can mess with my draft all I want, but it’s not going to get any better until I can find someone to explain to me what I’m doing wrong. And once I can see it, I can fix it.
This is why I’m grateful for my readers. Especially the practiced ones who have honed the skill of finding the problem and explaining it in a way that enables me to see it. Because then I can fix it. (Kristy, you are among the very best at this. I love you.)
Some people can sit by themselves and hammer out problems. Some people are adept at learning by trial and error. I am not one of these people. So I’m grateful for my agent. I’m grateful for my writing group. I’m grateful for my alpha readers. I’m looking forward to working with editors.
Because without them, I’d spin my wheels until I gave up.