Whither is thine editor?

I’ve published three novels, with a fourth on the way. The three haven’t attracted attention, but that’s to be expected since I haven’t promoted them. I will, and then we’ll find out if I did anything, but in the meantime I have to make a decision about the fourth one – shall I submit the work to an editor?

It’s a dilemma, made more compelling by a sense that Silken Thread might be the one that … what, deserves it? Needs it? I’m not sure. It has the potential to reach a wider audience than my science fiction books  – there’s an argument in favor. One never knows if an editor will bring anything constructive to the table – there’s one against.

I make the second statement under the premise that I’m not a terrible writer. If I was, any editor would do, and I suppose it’s possible my beta readers have been too kind and I am, in fact, a terrible writer. But, on the other hand, I’ve picked volumes off the shelf from major publishing houses and couldn’t get through five pages without frowning. If the traditional press is any good at what it does, how does that happen?

I know one way it happens is every book isn’t for every reader, and no editor can fix that. I also know I’ve written almost half-a-million words without recourse to the advice of any person having academic credentials to critique what I’m doing. That gives me pause.

What a joy it would be to have someone with an MFA in literature tell me I’m doing a good job. But, my experience as an applied scientist informs me that experts don’t always know what they’re talking about. $1400.00 might buy me a good report card on a non-selling book, and wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants?

There’s no call to action in this essay, folks. Silken Thread is on its sixth editing pass. I deleted a chapter this morning, having discovered that an idea I thought important early in the draft went absolutely nowhere. There’ll be a seventh pass, and then after that I’ll wring my hands about getting an editor, again. Comments welcome.

Places I’ve been, revisited …

May, 1972 - Silken Thread dallies in a Hong Kong shop I couldn't stay away from.

David led Barbara down Nathan Road to visit The Radio People, Ltd., a legendary audiophile store not far from the hotel. “This is where I always ended up when mom and dad turned me loose.”

He was prepared to see the place transformed by the incursion of Japanese electronics, but it was much as it had been during his last visit — the sales floor dominated by custom built enclosures of walnut, teak and mahogany, McIntosh tube amps, Uher tape decks, Stanton turntables and Tandberg receivers.

The owner, Albert Chan, shooed a couple of Brits in tweed jackets out the door. “Smoke pipe outside, then come back. I have Xavier Cugat for you to listen.” He lifted his chin at David. “Hey, you got bigger. Why you hair dark now?”

They listened to Mr. Chan’s teak-clad Spectrum loudspeakers, laughably classified as ‘bookshelf’ at 40 pounds each, and a pair of Wharfedale-equipped, Danish modern burled walnut cabinets half the size of washing machines. Barbara saw the look in his eyes. “Are these the ones you’ve been mooning over since you were fourteen?”

“Ones like these. They’ll cost a fortune to ship.”

“They’re gorgeous, and you can’t buy this merchandise anywhere else. Let’s get them.”

She was enthralled by the district’s shopping corridors, channeled through buildings from street to street — stopping to purchase a London Fog raincoat, three scarves, a jade pendant, and rhinestone decorated collars for the dogs. “They’ll look so cute in these.”

David went into a shoe store, coming out empty-handed. “I’m going to stick with my Florsheims.”

They returned to the hotel at five, meeting David’s parents at the reception desk. Lieve Aarens squealed when she saw the collars. “Isn’t this the greatest town ever? Give us half an hour, and we’ll take you to dinner.”

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