Tag Archives: editing

Writing a book? Ha ha! (Step 4: Where would I be without Saar)

Book Lilian, writing a bookThis piece is not written by me, it’s written by Sarah Breimer (Saar) who – amongst a few others – helps me writing
my book . Skyping with Sarah gives me a deadline, a reason to focus and she helps me further in my process. Apart from this, she is a fun and bubbly person and great to talk with. Oh, we never Skype with video btw as your own head is very distracting.

The writing process

When Eva and I ‘met’ online and started talking about the book she was about to write, she immediately impressed me with her energy and her open mind towards my role in the process. As a writer, it can be hard to take a step back and look at your own work. It is almost impossible, but, especially with non-fiction, it is very important that you do. It can be useful to see if you are still doing what you set out to do. And if you are not, if that change is for the better or should you refocus?

Eva asked me to be her first reader. This basically means that every once in a while I read along with her and together we discuss the challenges she faces in this process. She decides when she needs us to meet for a next round. We pick a day, she sends me her work and I read it.

While reading, I always have a few questions at the back of my mind. Is this still the story Eva intends to write or is she drifting in other directions? Is it evocative enough, does it have the right tone, does it tickle my mind as a reader or am I slowly falling asleep? Afterwards, when we meet for our Tuesday morning/evening Skype meet-up, we talk endlessly. Is this the right track? Why is there so much information on this and so little focus on that? Where is this all leading to, why did you decide to add this element or leave out something else?

Not all of those questions need immediate answers. They merely function as pointers for Eva to think about and to take on as she goes along in the process. Most of the time it already helps to talk about the story to clear your writers’ mind or to remember what you had set out to do originally.

As a writer, I know how challenging it is to talk about the story you have been working on so intensely. It takes a strong and open mind to be able to talk about your own writing without feeling criticized or doubted. Eva has that mind and that is sheer pleasure for an editor. I have grown to love our Tuesday morning/evening meetings, as for me they are so full of inspiration, recognition and good talk. I can’t wait for Eva to finish her book and be extremely proud of herself. I know I already am.

Falling impersonal love

A few weeks ago a friend asked me if I wanted to edit an Art Book for a painter. Of course I did! The artist – the Dutch painter Iris Frederix – had put together a book of her paintings over the past decade. She had written a description for every painting. I read and edited her book and we skyped several times. Iris’ paintings are beautiful, but there was something in the process of creating a painting that impressed me even more.

Iris loves painting portraits. In her book she describes the process of taking pictures, making sketches and meeting her ‘sitters’ before she starts painting. She prefers to meet the people she paints in person to get to know them and to be able to really connect with them. She describes this as impersonal love. Iris doesn’t fall in love with the people she paints, but she does develop a certain kind of love for them.

Impersonal love. I immediately fell in love with that combination of words. It’s being truly interested in the other and getting to know someone. For Iris it’s about being able to create an image of someone that doesn’t only reflect the person, but his emotions, his soul. Iris says it ‘just happens’ during the process and is important for the quality of her work.

It sounds beautiful right? I guess it’s about a goal that you greatly value and are deeply committed to. This is how sharing your life with others should be. You set aside your daily stuff, you focus and listen and the world around you will stop turning for a while. Or well, that’s how I imagine it would be. How often are you working, but thinking of random things at the same time; you might be hungry, shouldn’t forget to run some errands and did you forget to lock the door?

I guess it’s about focus, about fulfilling an assignment or job or an arts and craft project with your children in the best possible way. It’s about setting aside yourself and truly focus on the other aiming for the best result. The goal can be attention, simply having a great time, or painting the best painting ever.
 We should all try falling impersonal love for a while and forget about the world around us! I certainly will.

This is Monte Carlo, not a portrait indeed, but beautiful!