"The first draft of anything is shit." ~ Ernest Hemingway

"The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." ~ Mark Twain

"Everyone needs an editor." ~ Tim Foote

I have two photos of Shakespeare and Company bookstore in my office. When I feel lost as a writer, receive a particularly critical rejection, or just can't seem to remember why I keep plugging away, I look at those framed photos and remember, that is my Greek Theater, my Royal Albert Hall, my Symphony Hall. Shakespeare and Company is more than a bookstore, it's a destination for writers who dream.

As a writer, I dream a lot.

And while I know that placing a book within that store and then holding a modestly attended reading relies on me planting my ass in my office and writing, I also know it will be with the help of a good editor. No matter how brilliant my writing is, it won't shine unless it receives a boost along the way by someone who understands writing and reading, someone who knows when the writer has lost his reader.

There's a reason why doctors don't treat themselves or their family. They don't have the perspective to do a proper job of it. The same is true of every writer. After working as hard as you have to create the very best manuscript you know how, you simply don't have the necessary perspective to edit it.

When I work with writers to help them with their manuscripts, I begin with a conversation. Then another, and probably another after that. During these informal chats (I don't charge for the getting-to-know-you piece) we learn about each other, how and what we view and interpret good writing to be, and what your goals are as an author and for the manuscript you've worked so hard on.

Once we know and trust each other, and you trust I understand what you are trying to accomplish with your writing and what your goals are, we talk about the manuscript in detail. Then I get to work helping guide the text into what you hope it to be. I don't rewrite it or use a heavy hand, I respect your work. What I do is find where you are losing your reader and work with you to find the right way to bring them back into the narrative.

I want your readers' eyes to flow through your text like a warm knife through butter.

Please send me an email at: james@orchardwriting.com.