As I sit on the MAX on my way into Portland, I flip through the pages of my beat-up copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Every few stops, I find myself glancing up from the pages to look around at the passengers who are coming and going from the train on its way into the city. I notice an older man is fast asleep while the woman next to him stares out the window, a mother reties her son’s shoes, and a young man in a college hoodie taps his feet to the beat of whatever tune must be playing in his headphones. While I flip another page, I notice that I’m the only passenger in the car who is reading a book, while the majority of other passengers keep their eyes glued to their phones.
Do we, the storytellers, have a responsibility to warn our audience about subject matter that could cause that kind of distress? That’s right. I’m talking about trigger warnings.
In 2016, Scholastic conducted a survey on over two thousand US children ages six to seventeen and found that when it came to reading, boys generally do not like it as much as girls do.
Remember that a manuscript is the result of a writer’s blood, sweat, and tears. Unless they’re lucky to be full-time writers, authors are usually people working a nine-to-five job and have to write during their lunch breaks or stay up late into the night writing after their children have gone to bed. They’ve sacrificed their energy, time, and social life to write a book, and if a query is not handled well, they could see it as an attack on them and not as constructive feedback.
This particular teaching press is Ooligan, and at Ooligan, there is no such thing as sink or swim (even if the first day feels a little like being pushed face-first into the deep end). So sit back and relax while I lay out some sage advice on how to negotiate this crazy, awesome journey of experiential learning.
The most important thing to remember about an editor, is that they are people too (no, they are not perfect); they do have feelings. Having to deal with the stigma surrounding their profession, as well as their actual work, can be pretty overwhelming. Shouldn’t authors want to be helpful, especially for someone they will be working so closely with? Newsflash: you CAN make your editors life easier! Here is some advice that will allow you (as a writer) to ease the weight on your editor’s shoulders.