My Editor Dorrie
I had two brothers, but was not lucky enough to have any sisters. There was not a whit of culture or refinement in me or my brothers. We were just wild sunburned boys who ran all day and stayed covered in red clay dust.
If I have any sensibilities about me at all, I got it from my mom. She was an English teacher who took me to the library every week. I thought everybody went to the library and read five books every week, and the reading habit persisted even after formal education tried to beat it out of me at times. I owe everything to mama.
Even mom never tamed me; but my wife did, although it took her a while. She gave me the freedom to play as much as I wanted as long as I only loved one woman. Man, I was like Adam in the Garden of Eden except I had the good sense to know what I had. I cherished her, protected her, and never took my great fortune for granted. It hasn’t been perfect, but we’ve been loyal and had a great run of it. Just as sure as mama made my childhood, my wife sealed the deal for me as an adult.
So now you can see why when it came time to get an editor I leaned towards a woman. My agent is a guy and he has been an enormous influence on me, but he agreed I was more likely to flourish with a female editor. When I was a kid if you disagreed with a guy you might just rassle him or punch him in the nose. It never seemed very civilized to me. I work with a group of twelve women every day, and they tend to negotiate with words. For a doctor/bluegrass picker whose mid-life crisis was to wake up one day and decide he was a writer they provided a rich backdrop of verbal ideas.
Now I don’t want you to be confused here. I didn’t want a woman editor in hopes I’d get some sweet lady to say she loved my book no questions asked. If I wanted that, I’d just get mama to read it. In her eyes I can do no wrong. Aren’t moms that way? You see some guy on T.V. in an orange jump suit who has a long career in the ax murder business and his mom will be at his side saying, “Oh, Johnny is such a sweet boy.” If you want objectivity, mama ain’t the best person to call on.
I figured what I needed was a big sister. I never had one, but from what I have read they aren’t in the business of false praise, and yet when the chips are down will defend little brother to the death. Sister Dorrie turned out to be just that, a big sister who worked with me to get every passage right. To do it, she had to immerse herself in a world of tobacco chewing bluegrass pickers, late night card games, golf hustlers, and assorted other scoundrels. She not only did her job as a pro editor, but went the extra mile. She sat in on our sessions, got inside their heads, and whipped those boys into shape. By the time she was done with ’em, even a refined literary woman would want to read more.
At the same time, she refused to write it for me. (“I’m not your mama, Doc”) Dorrie worked hard to hear my voice, did all she could to make it stronger, but she never strangled it. It was a fine line to walk. I am a serious doctor, but otherwise a large child. Dorrie put enough polish on to make me readable, but never compromised my enthusiasm. I guess it was like a big sister who helps little brother get ready for prom night. She knew how to take a rough kid who loved baseball and make him presentable enough for a date with a young lady, but knew there was no point to take all the boy out of him.
When my book finally sees the light of published day, sister Dorrie deserves much of the credit. She knew how to rassle little brother with words and could fight hard like siblings do. But, never make the mistake to diss little brother to any big sister, ’cause they’ll stick up for you when the chips are down every time.
In addition to her work on my book, Dorrie edited an article for me that will be published in an international magazine this spring. My agent just assigned me another one he has high hopes for and I am sure I will call on her for that one too.
Dorrie is my editor and always will be. I told her it was like the Opry told Bill Monroe. “If you want to leave you’ll have to fire yourself.” She knows it is true, ’cause old Doc believes in loyalty. Besides, who ever heard of a little brother firing his big sister? That ain’t possible. Even after all the childhood squabbles and word wars, she’s the one who saw to it he was ready for the prom, and that took some doing.
Here’s her link: http://www.obrienediting.com
Also she is on my blogroll.
All the best, Sis.
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