why writing and editing matters

How Writing and Editing Can Change the World

Molly McCowan Business Storytelling Leave a Comment

As I was sifting through my inbox this morning, sipping my ritualistic cup of Earl Grey tea with lemon, an email from one of my favorite long-term clients, a wonderful author named J.A. Owenby, caught my eye. As I started reading it, I got chills.

J.A. is writing a fictional trilogy that follows eighteen-year-old Lacey as she escapes from her abusive mother, and later, from her abusive boyfriend. We’ve worked together on the first and second books in the trilogy so far, and I just got started on the developmental edit for the third.

J.A.’s writing is some of the best I’ve seen in my entire editorial career, and editing her books usually means I get sucked into the story. I often have to stop myself, go back about 50 pages, and start taking notes again as I help her develop the novels, making sure there are no loose ends and finessing her characterization and plot. She is a true pleasure to work with.

Her books are more than just excellent writing, however—the subject matter has the potential to raise awareness of domestic abuse and the myths that surround it, and to quite literally save lives.

Ever since we first started working together, J.A. and I have shared the idea that if the books could reach one person and inspire them to leave an abusive relationship (a dangerous and intensely scary thing to do), then all the hard work would be worth it.

Here’s the message J.A. sent me, shared here with her permission:

I just wanted to share something with you. One of the early readers of Echoes Beneath messaged me the other night that she’d finally left her husband. I didn’t know she was in an abusive marriage. I’ve messaged back and forth with her all week.

She just sent me this message tonight: “Honestly, it was things I read in your book that truly made me realize that [name omitted] is abusive. I think Lacey gave me the strength I needed to say ‘no more.’” 

Since you’re my editor and you helped me bring that story to life, I just wanted to share with you that a life was touched and hopefully changed for good.

As I read this, my eyes welled up with tears. J.A.’s —and my—dream for her books had come to fruition. These books have changed a life. They’ve given one woman the final push she needed to do an incredibly brave thing and get out of her abusive relationship.

I know this meant the world to J.A. It certainly meant the world to me. If we can reach one person and change their life for the better, we’ve succeeded in our work as writers and editors.

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Have you experienced anything like this as a writer or editor? Has a book inspired you to change your life for the better? 

Molly McCowan
Molly McCowan is a professional writer and editor from Fort Collins, Colorado. As the Lead Word Nerd at Inkbot Editing, it's her job to make you look good.