Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Kind Word For Editors

Somewhere this summer I saw a blog post about writers' reactions to editorial comments. (I thought it was at A Fuse #8 Production, but I can't find it now so I may be wrong.) It was an amusing account of over-the-top editorial responses.

Funny though it was, I felt, gee, should I put in a good word for editors? Nah, I guess not.

Fortunately, Gary Kamiya decided to do it with Let Us Now Praise Unsung Editors at Salon.

It's very difficult to describe the editor/author relationship. It can be very intense, "an intimate and gratifying experience," as Kamiya says in his article. I think many nonwriters assume it is adversarial. I once read an interview with a self-published writer who said she went the self-publishing route because she didn't want anyone changing her writing. Personally, I would never want to work without an editor.

Once I started publishing books, I worked with the same editor for eight or nine years. At one point, I was considering donating my "papers" (meaning the foot or two of drafts that accumulate for each of my books) to a library. The main reason for doing so, would be to get all that crap out of my house. But to do so would mean that I was deciding to donate Kathy's work, too--her sticky notes, her pages of suggestions, her letters. It didn't seem right to expose her to strangers like that. I wouldn't do that to a family member, and I wouldn't do it to my editor.

When I heard she was leaving Putnam, I didn't sleep for a couple of nights. What did it all mean? What should I do? Losing your editor is serious. Serious. I may have mentioned this when it happened a couple of years ago. I apologize if I'm repeating myself. But though I'm happy with my new editor, I still haven't gotten over the shock of losing the old one. That's how big a deal an editor is.

So, yeah, I like to hear a kind word for editors.


fusenumber8 said...

It was indeed once on my site, but the author in question got worried and feared that their editor might figure out the writing style and determine who it was. An understandable fear, I suppose, but I was quite fond of the piece. Ah well.

Gail Gauthier said...

You know, I wondered if it had been taken down because I didn't think it was posted that long ago, yet I couldn't find it.

I've been part of on-line discussions elsewhere where authors were concerned about that same sort of thing and took down material. It really is a relationship you want to take care of.

Lee said...

I've been asked to do a guest post/piece on why I don't want an editor. I'll send you a link when it's available.

Gail Gauthier said...

Okay. The other side of the argument.