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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Art of Being Edited

Great article in Salon about the need for editors. I was just having this conversation today with a book publishing industry professional. Great editors are priceless!

The piece also looks at the art of being edited, which can be a learned behavior. Oh, how true:

Your piece is a statement delivered from on high, a pronouncement ex cathedra, as egotistical and unchecked as the wail of a baby. Then it goes out into the world, to an editor, and the reality principle rears its ugly head. You are forced as a writer to come to terms with the gap between your idea and your execution -- and still more deflating, between your idea and what your idea should have been.

This isn't easy. You have to let go of your attachment to the specific words you've written and open yourself to what you were aiming for. You need enough confidence in yourself to accept constructive criticism, some of which can feel like your internal organs are being more or less gently moved around. More than just about any other non-artistic activity -- therapy and, yes, sex are possible exceptions -- being edited forces you to see yourself, or at least what you've written, the way others see you. It is a depersonalizing process in some ways, yet having to stand outside yourself deepens you as a person. You need to grow a thick skin in order to have a thinner, more sensitive one.

Yes a great editor is truly priceless.


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