I signed up for the summer term of a writing class where we're asked to maintain confidentiality, sort of like an AA meeting. The reason for this is most people in the class don't write fiction. They write about their feelings, their lives, bad things that happened to them or people they know. A lot of people in the class write to get through whatever they are going through.
I often feel like writing a post here after this kind of 'meeting' - but I feel uncomfortable going into the specifics, so I won't.
There was a discussion in class about how to ask for feedback on your writing. Feedback at this class isn't always on craft; the writer gets to ask for the kind of feedback she wants. Many writers just want to be heard, they want affirmation, and they want to know if their writing resonated and if they are onto anything that could develop into something more.
One person in the group was admittedly new to writing. But she didn't want affirmation about what was good about her writing. She wanted (almost demanded) critical feedback to expedite the writing process. She didn't say so, but she wanted an editor, someone to fix her writing for her.
I think even if you pay an editor, there is no fast track. It takes time to develop your voice, figure out what writing and editing processes work for you, find people you trust to give you feedback, and write it beginning to end. No matter how smart or talented or well-educated you are, it takes practice to learn to write dialogue, develop characters, and write a story with an effective beginning, middle, and end.
Asking other people to fast-track you to publication is the same as asking students in an art class to make you an artist by class 8. It's not going to happen that quickly. It can't. Unless you're a prodigy, in which case you don't need the class or the help, right? And it's not your classmate's responsibility - it's yours.
Obviously, critique partners and beta readers are incredibly important. But they are one part of the process, and they fit in after you write it, not on day one of a writing project. If you want someone to objectively critique your work that you can hold accountable, you need to hire an editor. I think that's wasted money until you're at the point where you trust your own voice as a writer, have written the thing, and edited it with the help of CP's and beta readers.
The up side of my mini-rant on this subject is I decided I am at the point that I need to hire an editor very soon - like after the next round of edits on the three manuscripts I've finished.
I think money invested in an editor will give me more return than money spent on this class. Thanks to Michael Offutt for nudging me in that direction in a comment on a post a week or two ago.
If you know of any awesome editors or have any idea what this sort of thing costs, please leave a comment or drop me an email. If you aren't yet published, do you plan on hiring an editor?