Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for December 5th, 2011

Finally! Ron Santo Makes the Hall of Fame

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Folks, it is with great pleasure that I finally get to say this: former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo has finally made it into the Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee (made up of former major league baseball players already in the Hall of Fame).  Santo was a nine-time All-Star, won five Gold Gloves for his fielding prowess, and hit 342 home runs in an age where that number meant something.  He was a career .277 hitter — again, this was in an era where there were many outstanding pitchers, before much of the expansion that diluted major league talent — and hit 30 or more home runs between 1964 and 1967.  (Or, if you are mathematically challenged as I sometimes am, that means Santo hit 30 or more HRs for four years straight.  That’s tough to do.)

Santo also was a well-known broadcaster for the Cubs for twenty years, until his death in 2010.  He was known for vocalizing when things went poorly — “Oh, no!  Oh, jeez!  Oh, man!” and the like — and also cheered when things went well.  (Even-handed, he was not.)  But fans loved him — including this Brewers fan — because Santo wore his heart on his sleeve and unabashedly loved both baseball and his Cubs.

See this link for further details:

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AqFJrda2AKMBjVKWqsB0AUIRvLYF?slug=ap-halloffame

Santo also was one of the very first players to admit he had diabetes.  He was a hero to many precisely because he was open about his struggle; as Brooks Robinson alluded to (quoted in the Yahoo! Sports article I referenced):

“He’s just a terrific guy, he’s baseball through and through, he’s done a lot for the game of baseball in his career, and he’s been though a lot of hardships physically and he was just a terrific player,” he said. “He certainly belongs in the Hall of Fame. A long time coming. No one knows the reason he didn’t get in when the writers were voting, but this process we have has been the fairest, I think.” (emphasis mine — BC)

Santo was loyal, loved baseball, and was definitely someone the “common man” (sometimes called the “fan on the street”) could root for as he had problems, was open and honest about sharing them, yet never let them get him down.  I am glad, for Santo’s family and for baseball fans everywhere, that Santo has finally received his due — better late than never — as it’s great to finally be able to write these words:

Ron Santo (3B) — Chicago Cubs.  Inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame, 2012.**

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** Yes, this means that Santo is the first-announced member of the Class of 2012.  He’s been voted on in 2011, yes.  But he’ll still be a member of the Class of ’12.

** By the way, all the emphasis on the word “finally” is deliberate.  Santo’s omission from the HoF was a curious one — nearly as curious as the continuing omission of Buck O’Neal — and the only word that came to mind was the one I (over)used — finally.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 5, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Thoughts Regarding Editing (and Editors)

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While continuing to recover from the latest sinus infection (nastier than most), I thought I’d blog about something I know a great deal about: editing, and editors.

See, some writers tend to think that editors “have it in” for them.  That couldn’t be further from the truth, but you wouldn’t know it by what little tends to get said about editors — most of it being unflattering in the extreme.

Editors work hard to make sure manuscripts make as much sense as they possibly can before they get turned in.  This can mean anything from fixing minor errors to asking questions about important plot points — though some places split the editing job up into three parts (proofreading, copy editing, and “straight editing,” the latter being more about the “macro-edit” of any given piece, while the first two deal with the more mundane particulars), other places don’t.  I tend to call all three things “editing” even though if I’m asked merely to proofread, I don’t tend to bring my skills of “macro-editing” (looking at the piece of writing overall as a gestalt, then trying to improve it to the best piece of writing of which I can conceive), while if I’m being asked to copy-edit, it’s more likely that the “macro-edit” has been done by someone else.

But because all three of these things can be called for on one job (this happens quite often with one of the places I regularly edit for), it helps to get the particulars of any given job narrowed down.  Do not feel silly if you ask questions, because without being willing to look silly at times, you cannot learn.

All that being said, editors often have last-minute changes from a writer (or, in the case of an anthology, writers) to incorporate.  Sometimes, these changes come in after the layout process has started; that can be a particular challenge, one that makes you want to tear your hair out as an editor, but seems to be par for the course in our new, hyped-up digital age.  Writers expect editors to just “go with the flow” and mostly, we do — but when we perform heroic actions to get a book to market despite delays on the writing end, it can get old.

So the next time you think about your editor (or editors), try to remember that editing skills are every bit as important as those a writer employs — and that many editors (if not most) are (or were) writers first.  Editors have a really good understanding of what makes a writer tick, and we’re completely uninterested in stopping the creative process cold — what questions we ask are meant to spur something from you, the writer, that may not be in your manuscript as it stands but that you, the writer, may have thought was there.  In short, editors are there to help you, and most if not all will work with you to improve your manuscript because any editor being employed has the best interests of the manuscript (story, novel, you name it) at heart.  Period.

So if you were one of those I referenced above who thought that editors were “out to get you,” please do yourself a favor and think again.  Because refusing to work with editors is not only counterproductive, it’s unprofessional, and will mark you out as a neophyte sooner than just about anything else.  So do yourself a favor, and work with your editor rather than insisting your manuscript is so wonderful it needs no oversight whatsoever.  (Please?)

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Edited to add:  My late husband Michael was one of the best editors I’ve ever been around.  I learned a great deal from him — what to do, what not to do — and it improved my writing immensely because I listened to him and didn’t automatically throw his suggestions out.  I knew Michael was more accomplished than I was when I first started showing him my work — this was before we started dating, much less got married, mind — and from the beginning I was impressed by the depth and breadth of his knowledge and expertise.

You see, editing does not need to be a “zero sum game.”  You don’t need “scorched earth tactics” to get the point across; you can instead use wit and humor, which is what Michael did with anyone he ever edited for — and it worked amazingly well.

Me, I am much more blunt than Michael ever was.  But I try to use some humor as well as pointing out the good points of a manuscript when I edit; this is my ideal.  But when time is short, sometimes the good points don’t get discussed — and that’s when writers get frustrated.

I can see any individual writer’s point, for the most part; he or she has worked very hard on a manuscript (whether it’s a story, novelette, novel, etc.) and here comes Ms. Editor to mark it all up in red.  Then there are the balloons to the side if you’re using MS Word, and if you don’t see any words of encouragement from Ms. Editor, it can seem extremely disheartening and make writers go, “Now, why did I take up this profession again?”

But you must persevere and listen to your editor.  If you have questions regarding an edit, ask your editor — I can’t say this often enough.  Most if not all of us are glad to explain what we’re asking for — we may do it in a blunt way if we’re pressed for time, but we will explain it, and we will not be rude.  (There’s a big difference between “rude” and “blunt.”)

Remember what my late husband Michael did, if you’re editing and can employ this strategy.  It’s not only good manners, but it makes the maximum amount of sense — approaching someone’s manuscript gently, if you have enough time that you can do so, is almost assuredly the best way to go.  (But even Michael, if he were pressed for time, would not explain as much or crack as many jokes during the explanation of his edit.  Because that’s the nature of the job; you need to first get everything taken care of, then you can frame it a little bit so the writer can understand.  But without first taking care of all of the problems, framing is impossible . . . does this make sense?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm