Tuesday, 25 April 2017

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


Kesia Lupo photo 200 x 273I 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.

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