In thirty years of literary journal and book manuscript editing, I’ve learned a lot of things. At the top of the list is this:
Every writer has something to say.
By “something to say,” I mean something that matters because it is meaningful to the writer. Something that is meaningful to the writer will be meaningful to readers, too. That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that the writer has the skill set or originality to connect with thousands of readers or to become famous—to be realistic, how many of us do? But it does mean that the writer’s project is worth taking seriously, and that there are people who will want to read it, if it can be shaped and polished for its best audience.
In fact, I’ve never worked on a manuscript I didn’t find value in, whether it was a novel about the abuse of racing dogs, a memoir about illness, a coming-of-age story about a bicultural teenager, a book of Christmas stories for the grandkids, or a collection of medical essays. Even as I’m alert to the ways in which a manuscript can be honed and prepared for publication, I’m always interested in the human element. That’s what keeps us all reading, isn’t it?
Featured photo above by Reddy Aprianto, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0