When I downloaded the first draft of The Accidental World onto my wife’s Kindle, she had no idea it was there, and she had no idea I had been writing it. A few pages into the story, she asked, never taking her eyes off the Kindle screen, “Am I reading this for entertainment or for editing?”
“Entertainment,” I replied. “We can edit later.”
She read it in bed over the next two nights, and I was fortunate to be next to her as she was down to the last few chapters. I watched her turn the pages at a furious rate. I heard her gasp aloud. I saw her cry, and then I watched as she closed the cover and looked over to me with an ear-to-ear smile.
Then the hard work started.
My wife made at least five edits to the book, correcting punctuation, name inconsistencies, and sentences that just didn’t make sense. With each read, we found more corrections, and it became clear that I needed professional editing help.
I searched and searched and finally landed on someone that I thought would be a good match. I contacted Sarah Kolb-Williams, and we reached an agreement on the business side of the relationship. With more anxiety than I have ever experienced, I clicked on my email’s “Send” button.
In the south, we will often use the term “Bless Your Heart.” For those unfamiliar with this phrase, it is not a statement of kindness and love. Instead, it is the very kind way of slapping you across the face with a response that is dripping in polite Southern charm. For example: Bless its heart. If that isn’t the most interesting baby I’ve seen in a month of Sundays.” Translation: That may be the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen. Or “Bless your heart, aren’t you just a fount of knowledge.” Translation: Just keep talking, and we will think you are more and more stupid with every word that comes from your mouth.
I was worried about getting a Bless Your Heart kind of feedback from Sarah. “Bless your heart, this is such an interesting story.” Translation: At what point in your crazy world did you think someone would actually enjoy reading this?
I got her first edits back, and there were no Bless Your Heart moments. Sarah called out things that didn’t make sense (even after 5 revisions), and she offered suggestions. By giving me options, she gently forced me into decisions that would make my story better. Don’t misunderstand; there was an abundance of red ink on the draft, but none of her words were demoralizing, sarcastic, or arrogant. Sarah was honest, and she was clear that not making the needed changes would/could be detrimental to the project.
And at that moment, as I began to read Sarah’s editorial suggestions, I realized that I had become a member of The Red Ink Society. It is an organization where the only membership requirement is that you write from your heart and never give up when the red ink flows. Sarah Kolb-Williams was the perfect choice for The Accidental World. She was the ideal choice for me. She provided the amazing balance of a keen eye, an unwavering opinion, and the gentle voice I needed as I was inducted into The Society.
Thank you, Sarah.