More than a week ago I wrote a tirade about my struggle to find a freelance editor who was willing to work with me. I will never publish that particular blog entry. It was an angry rant, fueled by rejection I wasnâ€™t expecting.
Now that I have found a handful of editors who are willing to look at my work and we can mutually decide if we want to work together, Iâ€™ve cooled off and taken a mental step back. This is important. These editors are professionals, interested in helping a writer produce a polished, saleable product (a book). A couple of them have expressed curiosity about the subject matter, but it seems this is not their first criteria. They want to know if Iâ€™m serious and if I have the ability to write. I am serious and I do hope I have some writing ability that will grow and not become stagnant.
Although freelance editors are a much more moral lot than I first expected, Iâ€™ve come to realize the knee-jerk reactions are based on two things: the subject matter of my books and their professional reputations.
Most editors publicly display a list of projects theyâ€™ve worked with and they want something they can be proud of saying â€œI helped present this to the world.â€ Dicey subject matters then become a personal and professional judgment call.
I did this all the time when I was an escort. Did the man e-mailing me seem like a person who would treat me the way I wanted to be treated? Did he seem like someone I wanted to talk to? I know I turned down many men, some of whom didnâ€™t take it so well. This is personal rejection. Thereâ€™s no way around it, but it was done in the best interests of the client and me. (If I thought I was going to have a bad time, I assure you the client would have a bad time too!) I assume the rejections from the editors are done in the best interest of both of us. Canâ€™t say I like it, but I think I understand.
I still donâ€™t take any publisherâ€™s or literary agentâ€™s rejection personally, although itâ€™s always a bit disappointing. Agents and publishers reject projects if they donâ€™t believe there is a big market for the book. Plain and simple economics.
Being rejected by freelance editors on the basis of my subject matter is very different. I have never felt shame about my former occupations. They are part of me and always will be. For my project to be rejected simply because of the subject infuriated me. Why was I having their morality forced upon me?
I have been missing the obvious. What is normal to me is not normal to others. I certainly live in an insular world. My friends, lover and family all know about my years as an escort and stripper and itâ€™s no big deal. Iâ€™m doing new things now (some escort-related, some not). I participate and read many escort-related websites and am still making new friends among escorts. This is all very normal to me. I have forgotten the strong stereotypes of the world outside my vision. My life is not considered â€œnormalâ€ even though I consider myself a very normal, mundane citizen.
Of course, what is normal? Is normal a bunch of people who love a particular animal so much they collect little plastic sculptures of said animal, even going so far as to create shows where they exhibit their animals as if they were real? (My fellow Breyer collectors.) Is normal meeting a new man every day and possibly having sex with him? (From a magazine article of a woman who went on 100 blind dates in as many days.) Is normal someone who goes around judging othersâ€™ hard work? (Pick any type of critic.) Or is it hitting up people for money to give to other people? (Pick any charity.)
What has been normal for me has been acceptance. Getting broken out of that little bubble has been hard to take. I assumed this would happen when my books are published and I start actively promoting them. I didnâ€™t expect it during the production process. It has been a stinging learning experience.
PS: It looks like I found my fantasy editor today. She has great enthusiasm for my topic, as well as a keen eye for all my mistakes. (The 10-page writing sample I sent her was very polished, I thought. She marked that puppy to pieces.) I hope this is the start of a great collaboration.