Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Editors

Sooner or later a writer feels that he comes to know the editors he is working with . . . even if he has never met face-to-face.  These people, these editors who delve into the idiosyncrasies of a writer's work are also, in a sense, digging into his psyche.  The best relationships between writer and editor are those where, in a type of symbiotic dance, both writer and editor reach a mutual understanding, come to a meeting-of-the-minds. 

Often, the only discourse that flows between are comments (no longer made in red pencil on paper, which was the old way) . . . comments like:  Do you mean to say this? or What was your intention here? or What'say we throw out this comma? or I need two more pages by tomorrow morning!

Now days these editorial considerations are completed in massive Word documents with commentary boxes designed for editors, or PDF files, or sometimes through ongoing email conversations or the occasional phone call where, in essence, an editor calls just to say, I love you and I need your final draft by next Wednesday.

Over the long pull of nearly forty years of word play, I've generally loved all of my editors.  There have, by now, been hundreds of them.  I've sent gifts.  I've counseled them.  They have counseled me.  I've celebrated with them.  Despaired, as well.  I've heard their curses.  Cursed back. 

I have also rejoiced with editors when they have received word of a promotion. And I've lamented my loss when they have called to tell me they were moving to another publishing house, or taking a new position, or otherwise abandoning their relationship with me or my work.

Yesterday, sitting on the back deck at sunset with my wife, I noted that I had had no less than five conversations with editors that day . . . and dozens over the course of the week.  My editorial conversations these days range from Boston, to New York, to Nashville, to Denver, to back home in Indiana.  At times the names and the naming criss-cross like a swarm of gnats and I find myself batting at confusion, as if I am attempting to complete a crossword puzzle in my head while simultaneously creating new ones.

But this is my love.

Yes, I like my editors.  I have to.  Anyone willing to read, say, a 1500 word article on charter fishing, or a book review, or especially a book manuscript complete with my illustrations deserves a medal.  I can scarcely stand to read my work twice, much less comment on it, and once I write a book or an article it's safe to say that it takes on the ambiance of the other.  In a sense, it exists outside of me, and is no longer mine.  The book, in its final form, belongs to the editor, too. 

And I thank them.  Every one.


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