• Sometimes the Easy Way Out is Not All That Easy or Why I (really) Chose to Edit an Anthology

    Date: 2016.12.30 | Category: Book in Progress 2016, The Art of Writing | Tags: ,,,,

    Sometimes the Easy Way Out is Not All That Easy or Why I (really) Chose to Edit an Anthology

     

    The truth is I have wanted a book by a writer or writers of color (WOC) about the craft of writing for my own personal use as a WOC, and as a teacher of creative writing.  I was slow to admit that “craft” wasn’t necessarily what I was searching for.  I wanted confirmation that my experiences as a WOC weren’t unique, that I learned more from preparing to teach than having been taught, that words I used such as “passing jones” were okay to use even if certain people didn’t know the meaning of the word or if I was redefining the word, that just because someone else thought writing about race wasn’t trendy my stories were valid and valuable, and the list goes on.  When my publisher said to write the book I so desired, I eventually said yes.  But then I didn’t.  I asked, can I edit an anthology?  Again, he said, yes.  It’s true, I knew writers whose stories would fulfill my idea of a book by writers of color that would break the boundaries of craft or at least broaden the definition of it.  But, it is also true I didn’t feel like I knew enough, and couldn’t write well enough to write the book that I wanted to read— perhaps, because I’ve always felt stupid.  And even though some of you may be sighing and saying I’m not stupid, there is a fine line between what I know to be true and what others believe to be true.

    Nevertheless, I have just printed a copy of How Dare We! Write for an overall read before I push send and deliver the manuscript to our copy editor.  As a literary editor, I have never before edited an anthology.  Even though I thought an anthology would be easier than authoring my own book about writing, it wasn’t all that easy; I had much to learn.

    It was easy (okay, somewhat easy) to invite writers to submit their stories; it wasn’t easy to set and keep deadlines.

    It was easy to suggest the main theme of the anthology; it wasn’t easy to organize the many sub themes the stories brilliantly provided.

    It was easy to look at each story individually; it wasn’t easy to view the book in its entirety.

    It was easy to correspond with the group as a whole; it wasn’t easy to keep track of the 100s of individual emails that began back in May of 2016.

    I may have chosen editing an anthology over writing my personal writing/teaching journey because of my insecurity, but also because I was tired of my small world, of writing about myself (and as baby boomer it seems my time may be limited); there were writers I knew that had stories that needed to be told—24 stories versus one just made sense.

    What keeps me moving forward, trying to maintain self-imposed goals for completion of How Dare We! Write-handing the complete manuscript to the publisher the first week in February- is the enthusiasm for the project by the publisher, the writers, and the copy editor.  Word-of-mouth, there are already writers wanting this book, as far away as Norway I am told.