Sunday, December 11, 2011

Evolution of the Editor

(Something I wrote a couple years ago. Just came across it on my hard drive, and thought I'd post it.)

It always feels good to get published.  It frequently doesn't, however, feel good to get edited.  Having been both a writer and an editor for a few years, I was pondering the life cycle of an editor, and I believe I see a pattern in their evolution from lower life forms to lofty heights.

It's a cycle that all writers have to go through.  You write something.  Whether it's a fantasy story or a technical article, you pour your brain and sweat and soul into this little creation.  Then, you hand it to someone and anxiously wait for them to read it over, and tell you that it's absolute shit.

For the first hour or two after you get edits back, the editor is an ignorant moron lower than pond slime who deserves to be stabbed to death with a dull pen.  It is at this point that, for the sake of your career and your continued freedom, you should avoid talking to or even being within long range sniper rifle range of your editor.

After you breathe past the homicidal rage, you can return to your story and read the edits again.  At that point, the editor is still an imbecilic ass with the sensitivity of a rhino in plate mail, but at least he has a few possibly slightly valid points here and there.

You then sit back down at your computer and go over the story, re-reading sections that have ugly scars of red smeared on them by that incompetent jerk.  A sentence that made perfect sense to you when you wrote it, the stupid boob says is confusing.  You read it and realize, you're not entirely sure what it was supposed to mean in the first place.  Okay, maybe that one bit could stand to be changed a little.  And this part is perfectly, oh, yeah, I guess I did forget to put a verb in that sentence.  And this seemed logical to me before, but how exactly did the six foot six hero fit through the two foot wide drainage tube?

At that point, you think maybe the editor is a semi-intelligent life form and you might even want to thank him later for catching a few obvious glaring errors.  You go back and re-read his suggestions with a different eye, and realize, hmm, maybe this really might be better if I cut back on the exposition at the beginning, and add a bit more action at the end.  By the time you're through with your revisions, and you read your new, smoothly flowing, grammatical error free manuscript, that editor is a really sharp guy, and deserves a pat on the back next time you see him.

Then, you make the mistake of going back and reading your initial draft that you sent to the editor in the first place.  It is at that point that a writer must suppress the urge to call the editor and tell this unbelievably brilliant gift from the almighty creator, this genius paragon of verbal kung fu, that you want to bear his or her love child.


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