I once attended a writers’ conference where, in a lunch group made up of all writers, I was asked what I write. That's a question I commonly get in such settings. When I answered that, although I write, I’m primarily a book editor, one new-to-the-whole-world-of-publishing woman said, “Well, then, I don’t understand why you’re here.”
Ouch. That felt more like a challenge than curiosity, as though I were a fish who'd jumped out of her assigned body of water, a flopping curiosity on the other side of the table.
Bu like many editors, I’m also a writer. I write professionally, I write personally, and I write for a few blogs. I write nonfiction, and I write a little fiction (also my long-term goal). Some authors with whom I have an ongoing, trusting, author/writer relationship even allow me to write a paragraph as I’m editing to show what I have in mind to fill in a gap or flesh out a scene (subject to their changes, of course), and they seem to like many of those entries. That's especially fun in novels.
But mostly, I love to hang out with writers, people who love books and words, including the small writers’ group at my church. And though I, like many editors, attend writers' groups in part to encourage writers and provide information about editing and the publishing process when asked, I'm also there for encouragement and growth in my own writing and to soak up the pure joy of the craft. But sometimes I do feel like that fish out of her own water, and I imagine others who are primarily editors in those settings might feel that way too.
Now, I’m not talking about physically embracing the editors among you, unless you're the hugging type anyway and think hugging a fish makes sense. But I do suggest making them feel welcome, as though they have something to offer, even as a writer.
Most of the times we editors are with writers, no one says, “You’re an editor? I don’t understand why you’re here, then,” and we feel just fine. But any editor who even sometimes feels like a fish out of water can use some depth of welcome and support anytime you’d like to offer it. Whether you come across the species at a writers’ group, writers’ conference, or your own American Christian Fiction Writers chapter meetings—even if their presence seems a little fishy to you—make some emotional space for them. My guess is more of us are swimming among you than you know, even if we don't travel in obvious schools with you other fish in the sea!
Jean Kavich Bloom is a freelance editor and writer for Christian publishers and ministries
(Bloom in Words Editorial Services), with nearly thirty years' experience in the book publishing world. Her personal blog is Bloom in Words too, where she sometimes posts articles about the writing life. She is also a contributor to The Glorious Table, a blog for women of all ages. Her published books are Bible Promises for God's Precious Princess and Bible Promises for God's Treasured Boy. She and her husband, Cal, have three children (plus two who married in) and five grandchildren, with foster grandchildren on a regular basis.
Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=57048&picture=angelfish