In conversation with... Claire Dyer

Obviously at the present time I am only able to chat virtually with other writers, but all the same it’s such a positive thing to be able to do. Claire was my first author friend and as well as enjoying her company I have always found her advice to be hugely valuable… whether it’s helping me to see the wood for the trees in my most recent manuscript – or helping me to choose (alright, choosing) the best handbag I’ve ever owned.

Here I’m talking to her about Fresh Eyes, her editorial and critiquing consultancy.

People will know you as an author and poet, but what made you decide to offer your services to other writers?

My answer to your question is two-fold. Firstly, when I was a girl my grandfather had a saying that if you wanted to learn a musical instrument, the best way to do so was to take a pupil. And it's a bit like that with writing. Teaching and offering critiques and editorial services helps me spot the inconsistencies in my own work. Reminding others of the importance of show, don't tell, for example, serves to remind me too! Secondly, whilst I realise every author's journey is different, mine has been going on a while and I feel I've had a wealth of experience of being agented and published and really value being able to pass this knowledge on to others who are at the start of theirs.

I know how much I gain from simply having writerly chats with you as a friend and you are certainly generous in passing on your knowledge, but what do you think are the most important lessons you've learnt as a writer?

Crikey, that's a tough question! I think the most significant lessons I've learnt are as follows:  

1. To view what I write through two lenses. The first is my own personal lens of what the work means to me. The second is a more market-driven lens where what I write is a product that may or may not be what the market is looking for. It's hard to differentiate between the two but when I succeed in doing so, it helps keep things in perspective. 

2. Editing is a good thing! There is always scope to make what you've written smoother, sharper, clearer. 

3. No one understands your writing woes and joys like a writing friend, so I treasure my writing friends dearly. 

The point about editing is a very good one, but how do you know when to stop? Is that one of the really big advantages of employing a professional to help you?

Yes, I think getting a second opinion always helps you know when to stop. Having someone else, someone whose opinion you trust, say that what you've got works, that its voice is convincing and compelling and it says what you want it to say, is a wonderfully affirming experience.

 

Claire is the author of three novels, including one of my favourites, The Perfect Affair, and two collections of poetry, with a third to be published by Two Rivers Press in 2021. Find out more about Fresh Eyes here: https://clairedyer.com/fresh-eyes/