Spinning out from a conversation on Facebook, I decided what follows made good fodder for this space. Besides, I haven’t written anything here in a couple of days and cobwebs and stuff were forming in the corners.
Anyway, I figured I’d devote a few hundred words to being a kiss-ass about editors, so listen up, writer hopefuls, as this one’s for you: Don’t be a dick to your editors.
As I write this (or, actually, copy and paste it from the Facebook page before prettying it up a bit), I’m working for six different editors on various projects. Each of them has their own style, quirks, preferences, acceptance of or aversion to my humor or my choice of sports team, and so on. I get along with all of them. Why? Because I listen to their feedback, we often have great discussions prompted by their notes, and I’m not a dick. I pride myself on being easy to get along with in these situations. Despite their often differing approaches, I understand that they all have a common goal: Making my writing better.
All writers need an editor. Even with our most noble intentions, we as writers are simply too close and too invested in what we write. We need that other set of eyes and perspective that’s somewhat detached from what we’ve wrought. We need that hand on our shoulder to guide us back to the trail when we wander off into the weeds, or disappear too far up our own asses.
That’s not to say I just roll over whenever an editor brings up something that requires me to make changes to an outline or manuscript. If I’m not convinced that’s the way to go, I’ll make my case, and they’ll listen, and then we work it out. Even on those rare occasions when we disagree, the conversations are constructive and we both come away thinking we’re doing right by the project.
A great editor is someone who’s invested in your work, and who pushes you to make it the best it can be. Some of my favorite conversations over the years have essentially been extended brainstorming sessions, where he/she or I will toss out ideas, see what sticks, and then start spiraling outward from there, along with the challenge to see if I can take things in directions I hadn’t previously considered. Collaboration of this sort is one of my favorite parts of the whole writing process, be it with an editor or Kevin or other writers. I almost always come away from such sessions energized and ready to kick ass and take names.
Oh, and write whatever it is I’m supposed to be writing.
All writers need an editor. Yes, even you. I just wish all writers could have editors like those who’ve kept me in line all these years. If you’re lucky enough to get one of those, then don’t be a dick to them. Treasure them, because they’re there to make you and your work better.
Okay, I’m done ass-kissing. Back to it.