Monday, January 2, 2012

Editors Are Your Friends

There's a tendency among newer writers (and -- let's face it -- all of us, at one time or another) to regard editors as adversaries. First of all, acquiring editors are gate-keepers. They're the ones with the power to say No, the ones we have to get past in order to get our books accepted and paid for. They're the ones we think of bribing with chocolate, or placating and cajoling and offering the sekrit handshake to.

Then, once we've cleared that hurdle, we have to face editorial revisions. It isn't enough that we've toiled and toiled and turned ourselves into knots getting a book accepted -- now they want to us to change stuff! To alter our peerless prose! What if they want us to do something that's wrong, wrong, wrong for the book? Where do they get off telling us what to do, anyway?

Madeleine E. Robins made a wonderful comment on this:

My constant refrain, when I'm talking to would-be, wanna-be, and future writers, is: "editors are your friend. They keep you from going out in public with your slip showing and pieces of spinach caught in your teeth. Yes, there are some editors who are, um, overzealous. But most of them have the best interest of your work at heart, and I doubt there exists an editor anywhere who gets up in the morning saying "How shall I screw up great works of prose today?" 

What is sad is that twice I have been informed by someone in the crowd that editors were just wanna-be writers who were taking out their disappointment on the text before them.

While many editors are also writers, many are not and never want to be. They love editing, they love "midwifing" wonderful books -- they want to fall in love with yours and make it the best it can be. It is such a joy to work with an insightful, skilled author. Truly, such a professional is an author's best friend. 

1 comment:

  1. if anyones on here today all the best have a gud new year