I didn’t expect to be an editor – from about halfway through my undergrad degree, I was determined to be a Famous Author
WRITING AND EDITING
I didn’t expect to be an editor – from about halfway through my undergrad degree, I was determined to be a Famous Author. But during an MA in Creative Writing, I realised how much I enjoyed critiquing. Writing is overwhelmingly creative – yes, you have to plot and plan, so there’s logic involved, but you’re led by your imagination. Critiquing engaged a different part of my mind: the problem-solving part. Ultimately, I felt I was acting on behalf of the reader. What would bug a reader about this story? Why – and how could we fix it? Maybe I was suited to editorial, I thought.
My first steps into publishing and my first attempts at getting published ran oddly in tandem. Sadly, my MA historical fiction novel – for all its bosom-heaving swashbuckles – wasn’t destined for representation. Dispirited at my crushed Famous Author dreams, I decided I was not a writer after all.
Instead, I crammed my foot in the door at a big fiction publisher, working on copy-edits and proofreads for books I loved. Formal training and learning on the job honed those editorial instincts – and as I began to analyse the novels I read at work, I had a new idea of my own. In spite of myself, I started to write again. The logical part of my mind had helped spur my imagination.
Now, a children’s book editor at Chicken House and (at last!) agented, I feel those two sides of me are at peace; maybe even working together. I write before work, intensely. At nine o’clock, my imagination takes a break and I start immersing myself in someone else’s world, working out the kinks. A huge part of my job is finding that balance – between logic and imagination. A writer does not an editor make – but I think it helps. And vice versa, too.
Kesia joined Chicken House in January 2015 as Junior Editor. She has a BA in History and an MA in Creative Writing, and previously worked in Editorial for Pan Macmillan.
Get Over Youselfet Over Youself is the course designed specifically for acquisition editors in consumer book publishing.