I’ve always been a big reader.

01/19/2011 at 11:39 pm (Ann Brashares On Writing)

I’ve always loved books, I’ve always loved stories. And I’ve always told myself stories. I used to write some of them down, but I didn’t really have the idea of being a writer. Somehow, I didn’t imagine that it was something I could actually do as a job so I got a job after college as a receptionist at a small company that produced books mostly for children and young adults. And I was madly attracted to that, to the idea of being in that atmosphere where people were working on books. And little by little I was able to take on some editorial responsibilities and got promoted eventually to being an assistant editor and senior editor and finally I think I was editor-in-chief and then I ended up buying the company with a partner.

So I was a small-business owner for a brief time. Basically I was working on a lot of manuscripts, as an editor. I was revising them, working with writers, writing revision letters, writing cover copies, and doing line editing, which is a real art and I just loved it and worked on it for years and years. So I did that for about ten or eleven years and as I did I realized that my strengths were definitely not administrative and not managerial. They were not organizational in any way. The thing that I was good at and the thing that I loved was just being close to the manuscript and I became known as the kind-off expert re-writer. So if a book was in trouble I would be brought in to do major re-writes, like write 200 pages of a book. And that was so much fun because there’s no ego in that – I just wanted to try to get into a voice and do the best job I could. And the closer I was to the most creative part of it, the happier I was. And finally I did this gigantic re-write and I gave it to an editor at Random House, who was publishing the book. She read over my work and said, “If you ever decide to be a writer, please show me your work. I strongly encourage you to be a writer.” I was very fearful about it and was afraid that I couldn’t do it, but finally with her encouragement and encouragement from other places, I decided to kind of take a risk and I wrote my first book.

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