Drawing on thirty years’ experience as an editor and writing coach as well as author, I offer one-on-one editorial sessions and editorial feedback on your writing projects.
Whether your manuscript needs a stronger focus or you’d simply like to bounce your book idea off someone else, editing and coaching sessions can give you tools for keeping you centered on your goal and can help your writing—and your writing process—come alive.
I work with experienced writers, published or unpublished, who hold the dream of a completed essay or book. Contact me for a free 30-minute conversation to see if I am a good match for your project.
Find the Heart of Your Story
I specialize in creative nonfiction projects, especially memoirs, though I consider other projects as well. Together we can work on spicing up your nonfiction prose with tools and techniques borrowed from fiction. I can offer many suggestions for writers of all genres to edit and polish their work so their writing glows.
But what I especially enjoy is helping authors find the heart of their story. I might ask questions to help you sharpen your message, or I can advise you on your story plot. When an author writes the true heart of their story, their book will zing with life. But how do you find the heart of your story or your book?
What Is Your Book About, Really?
Such a simple question: What is your book about? At the obvious level, the answer is your theme or topic, such as coming-of-age or race relations or intimate relationships. But what the book is really about may only unfold over time.
Many authors start to write about their topic from one angle and at the end of their draft discover that the book wants to be about something else. I thought I’d finished my memoir draft after I’d written all the stories of connecting with nature. Then an editor I hired brought me up short. She said, “The most interesting part of this book hasn’t been written yet.” She nudged me toward writing reflective sections, which added depth to the book.
What your book is really about has to do with two things: (1) who you are and (2) where your passion for the topic lies. Whether you are writing nonfiction, fiction, or memoir, your path to clarity is found by answering these two questions. The heart of your book is found, in other words, by finding the path to your own heart.
The Spirituality of Writing
Because it takes finding the heart, the act of writing itself includes dimensions of spirituality. What your book is really about is related to who you are, to what you care about, and therefore to what your unique contribution is to the world.
You are one of a kind. You bring a unique perspective to your topic. This special vision is the gift you give to your readers. Whether your gift is making them laugh or expanding their worldview, you offer something that will improve their lives. Your writing connects you—and them—to something larger. Even if you never intend to publish your work, the act of writing connects you to something greater than your everyday self.
So the deeper answer to the question “What is this book about?” is found by probing into questions of purpose. Yes, as an editor I can (and will) give you feedback on where your plot is stagnant or your characters are falling flat or, if you write nonfiction, where the logic is jumpy or the pace of your discussion is lagging. But to fix these problems, you will likely need to go someplace new—toward a larger vision of the topic or a deeper understanding of your purposes in writing about it.
About Writing Memoir
Because your writing has a larger purpose than you, getting the ego out of the way is crucial to the process. The temptation to showcase the self is especially strong for writers of memoir. It shows up when authors want to tell readers all about their fascinating lives or, worse, cry on their readers’ shoulders. Memoir is different from autobiography; it is the art of turning what happened to you into something helpful for others. The practice lies is keeping your eye on this larger purpose.
The good news is, getting out of the way leads to writing the clearest, liveliest memoir. Addressing issues of ego helps your narrative stay balanced on the spine of the story. Memoirs that accomplish this touch our hearts or inspire us; they give us a new way of seeing or a new appreciation for some aspect of living.
I enjoy helping authors of all genres tease out their authentic voice. I might ask questions to help clarify your purpose or motivation. For those who are interested, we might engage in shamanic-style journey sessions to address the more subtle issues of self, creativity, and purpose that arise in writing.
A note on spiritual memoirs. Authors of spiritual memoirs, whether they are therapists, teachers, healers, ministers, or shamans, face a unique challenge. They are telling a creative story about their own spiritual path. No other genre requires as much attention to the writer’s motivations because in no other genre is it quite so easy to slide into self-promotion.
The art of writing a spiritual memoir is the art of remaining at every moment, as in Zen, the finger pointing toward the moon. Memoirs that do this usually follow a character arc that is more about opening—continually opening—than about mastering. They welcome readers in through a tone of exploring and curiosity. They inspire readers to explore along with the author rather than sit at the author’s feet.
If you are writing a spiritual memoir, I provide a safe place for you to become vulnerable to your readers and yourself. I will encourage you toward the truthful center of your story. Depending on your needs, we might engage in shamanic-style journey sessions to open to the larger wisdom of Spirit.
Contact me for a free 30-minute conversation to see if I am a good match for your creative project.
Initial review of and feedback on your book: $90 per hour (around 5 hours for a 300-page book)
Manuscript development: $90 per hour for reading, feedback, and consultation
Coaching sessions by phone: $90 per hour
Copy editing (correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation after the manuscript is complete): $45 per hour