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.