You have a writing project in mind, and want to get some advice on it. The best way to begin is to come over to my house for a kitchen-table meeting for a couple of hours. It’s a big kitchen, with a table for your laptop and mine, and I can offer you anything from green tea to Scotch, depending on how the meeting goes.
Or you might have a manuscript. You’re sick to death of it and want to get off your desk, so you send it to me to review. Or you aren’t sick of it, but do have some specific questions about it, or want someone who isn’t your mother to tell you if it’s publishable, or how to make it publishable.
In that case, I read it and mark it and write you a detailed response, and often you then come over to meet with me.
Warning: The service I render you may be to tug the project you’ve been at work on, or thinking about, for years, out of your hands. There are some topics (most, but not all, involving a mother) that will never reward the time spent, but are instead a form of brooding.
Did you lose money through an investment guide who got in over his head and began embezzling? Did you grow up in a really crappy family, or marry an asshole? Some stories we can reframe: some we must shut the door on. What you want to write may not be what the reader wants to read.
On the other hand. I am pretty good at structure.
As novelist Michael Crichton pointed out, you often start with a good idea of what you’re doing: “…as if you were standing on a dock and looking at a ship on the ocean. At first you can see the entire ship, but then as you begin work you’re in the boiler room and you can’t see the ship anymore … What you really want in an editor is someone who’s still on the dock, who can say, “Hi, I’m looking at your ship, and it’s missing a bow, the front mast is crooked, and it looks to me as if your propellers are going to have to be fixed.”
If you are working on a memoir, here’s why a writing coach can help: Writing about your own life offers a particular challenges: in that it asks you to review events and distinguish between what is important or meaningful to you, and what is important or meaningful to the story. An outsider interested only in story–in what will make the book work–can help you outline the arc of your story (as opposed to just writing down everything that happened in the order it happened), and help you decide what to put in, what to leave out. When the book is ready, I can help you with agents, titles, publishing, and the proposal.
Caveat: Resist the urge to get your project into shape before showing it to me. I want to see it at as early a stage as possible, as I can be most useful in helping to plan the structure. In fact sometimes all you need to bring is a pad of paper and yourself, and we will talk through the book together. We might tape the session, as we cover a lot of ground fast, and you might want to listen to it later, in the car maybe.
I charge $200 an hour for time spent, whether for meeting in person or for reviewing pages. You can email me a manuscript –I can upload and read on my Kindle, and print out for written comments. Reading and making detailed suggestions on a book-length manuscript can cost $1200 to $2500, depending on its length and how rough or polished it is.
That was the best $200 I ever spent. I love the path you put me on; my vision is so much clearer. I’m so inspired to get back to work.
Thanks again for your wonderful amazing edits–they are just exactly what I need.
95 Scott Street San Francisco, CA 94117.415-722-6697 ( prefer texts)