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The writer becomes the editor

The Snapdragon Inn

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Organic Goodness! More info HERE.This week I've gained a new appreciation for Max Perkins, editor. My middle daughter has been crafting a story for our school district's Young Authors competition. Although she's been writing since January, as is the case with a lot of school assignments, we are finishing things up at the last minute. A few nights ago, with the text typed and centered, and the page breaks carefully determined, I presented the final draft to my young author for final approval.

"What?"
"I didn't write that?"
"Why does it say that?"
"Uggggh. OOOhhhh. This is so frustrating."
were the cries of the tortured 9 year old artist.

Not looking so tortured here but believe me, she can be :)

As her patient and loving editor, I gave words of encouragement and very delicately offered advice about grammar or tense. I also became very aware when it was time to stop and send the author off to play with her sister.

This project has given me a glimpse into Perkins' endeavors to nurture the genius he saw in Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Wolfe. As a mother editor, I see genius in my three children and hope that I can carefully nurture and encourage them as they share their talents with the world. No matter what the scale, the struggle to bring forth art is both exhilarating and excruciating.

The following quote from Max Perkins came as he recalled when he first heard of Thomas Wolfe. It made me smile this week as I thought about my own "Turbulent Spirit". Notice that Perkins sees the trouble in the man, but absolutely appreciates the genius of the artist. Just like a father would view his son, or a mother would view her young author daughter.

"The first time I heard of Thomas Wolfe," remembered Perkins, "I had a sense of foreboding. I who love the man say this. Every good thing that comes is accompanied by trouble. It was in 1928 when Madeleine Boyd, a literary agent, came in. She talked of several manuscripts which did not much interest me, but frequently interrupted herself to tell of a wonderful novel about an American boy. I several times said to her, 'Why don't you bring it in here, Madeleine?' and she seemed to evade the question. But finally she said, 'I will bring it, if you promise to read every word of it.' I did promise, but she told me other things that made me realize that Wolfe was a turbulent spirit, and that we were in for turbulence."

Here's a great Thomas Wolfe link.