I met Kristine Carlson—the other half of our new Author & Editor blog—in the winter of 2016. You know that feeling when you meet someone, or you have a turning-point experience, and it’s immediately clear that all the roads and pathways you’ve traversed in your life have led you right there? That’s how it was for me when I met Kris at a week-long workshop. Not only did I meet a soul friend, but by the end of that week I was signing on to edit her seventh book, From Heartbreak to Wholeness: The Hero’s Journey to Joy.
By this time, I had been editing books full-time for almost ten years and had been deeply involved in the field of personal development and transformation for the twenty years prior. Through event production, conference programming, content creation, copywriting, book sales and promotion, and developmental editing, I had been fortunate to work in various ways with many of the greatest lights of the human potential movement. Blessed is the word I would use to describe the work I’d already had the good fortune to do.
And then came Kris and all her amazing shine. Working with her was and is a rare mix of qualities. Excellence with true ease. Impeccable professionalism with peacefulness. Seriousness with uproarious humor. Gravitas with great levity.
When we first started working on her book, we had mini writing retreats together—some seaside, some high in the mountains. Ocean air, tall trees, hot coffee, and hours of delving into the hero’s journey that Kris had been on since that day in 2006 when her beloved husband, Dr. Richard Carlson, died unexpectedly.
In the process of talking with Kris—pulling on the threads of her experiences, her thoughts, her feelings; getting a clear understanding of the healing wisdom she wished to share through the book—I learned of a love story for the ages. I learned of a 25-year union that was based on mutual respect, adoration, kindness, compassion, and delight. For me, the earth temporarily stopped spinning on its axis when she told me that in all that time, Richard had never said a cross word to her.
Although I knew that my primary work was to assist Kris as she laid out the steps of her healing journey for others to follow, as an editor, I also felt called to do justice to Kris and Richard’s love story.
And it matters still.
It matters to Kris in ways that are, of course, privately her own. But, for me, as I edited her pages, it mattered to me that the world receives the homeopathic remedy that their love story offers. A dose of eternal and transformative love to soothe the suffering heart of our collective human family. And at the level of personal, romantic love, a dose of hope that healthy, joyous, and enduring love is possible.
The way I see it, all the basic components and priorities of the editing process—from the technical aspects of creating clarity and coherency through sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and content flow to the more soulful aspects of good storytelling and building authentic rapport with your readers—are entirely in service to sharing the messages that matter the most.
Kris has lots of messages that come through her writing, speaking, and teaching. Today, I’m shining a spotlight on her love story—the one that she has lived and that continues to bear fruit every day, through her children, her grandchildren, and all of us whose lives she touches. No one else can tell this particular story.
I know that you have stories and messages that only you can tell—and telling them matters.
It’s just true that no one has lived the life you have lived.
No one has seen exactly what you have seen.
No one has perceived life through your mind and heart.
No one has connected the dots and come to their insights in just the same way you have.
It really is a snowflake situation here—there can only ever be one of you.
Therefore, your book on “triumphing over adversity” or “healing against all odds” or “learning to love again after loss” or “building an entrepreneurial empire” or “parenting with soul” will be
To write your book is to allow yourself to have positive impact on others by sharing the wisdom and the gifts you have gained through the living of your life. No matter what field of endeavor you’re focused on, if you get down to the nitty-gritty, underlying reason you want to write it, it’s very likely because you care. You want to motivate, educate, uplift, or inspire other people.
And so . . . editing really matters to the extent that it supports that dream coming to fruition. It matters to the extent that it facilitates a meaningful connection between you as the author and your readers. In other words, editing’s greatest purpose is to ensure that your writing is accessible, clear, impactful—that it reaches your readers and allows them to learn and grow; to be freer than they were when they first opened your book.
In a time in our world when so many are feeling worried, anxious, depressed, lost, cynical, despairing; when so many are suffering in the ways that we do when our hope, faith, and vision for the future have been ravaged, your voice is needed.
Editing really matters when it serves that sacred occurrence.
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