Thursday, June 6, 2013

We’ve been asked what it was like to work with 14 other writers and to “mush” disparate stories into a novelistic arc. Well…
First thing is that we were incredibly lucky in the vanguard writers we chose. When we first sent off our query to Jack Hodgins and Gail Anderson-Dargatz we didn’t know what to expect in response. Imagine how pleased we were when they not only agreed to being part of this “something new under the literary sun” project but also immediately spread the word to the myriad writers they had taught over the years. And—good for them and lucky for us—there are a number of their former students who have ended up as contributors. We didn’t know that at the time of the selection, but once the names of the contributors were revealed, Jack and Gail let us know of their pride. The next big reveal for them, and for all readers, will be in October when writers “own” the chapters they wrote and read from them in events across Canada.
The experience of working closely with the contributors during the editing and “mushing” process was a time of much exciting creative fervor and the occasional tricky patch of negotiations. We see the writer-editor relationship as a creative dance and so much of that went smoothly—no stepping on each other’s toes; the writers worked with our suggestions in a most generous spirited manner. There were times, though, when we had to go beyond the usual perimeters of editorial input and have some of the writers change something in their chapters to accommodate an essential element in another. That’s when the “negotiation” came into play. Happily we can report that all turned out well: no one left the dance floor.
Coordinating the chapters was a fun job and we had the expert guidance of the copy editor, Trish, to do that. We (D & M), who are substantive editors, gained new insight into the precision of copy editors who have the job of ensuring consistency and accuracy. Trish noticed every nuance of every action and chapter and alerted us to where inconsistencies appeared among chapters, such as the sun shining on one head and clouds pouring rain on another head, at exactly the same time and location. We are eternally indebted to Trish’s expert eyes and want to applaud her here.
It wasn’t all editorial doing though. At the Edge is the result of the stunning creative talent of writers from five areas in Canada and two European countries. They came up with a wide diversity of characters and situations, and contribute to a “community of voices” narrative that will captivate readers—of this we are sure. And they all went so far as to agree to not having their names attached to their chapters in the book. Now there is a surrendering of personal gain for collective benefit.
Are you wondering what it was like for the writers to be part of this venture? Well, we’ll post samples of their comments on just that tomorrow. Stay tuned…
Beams to you all,
Marjorie and Deborah.

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