Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Editorial Ramblings

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Before I get into this long-overdue blog about my actual profession (writing and editing), let me say something important:

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about editing.

Because I’ve been doing so much editing lately, I’ve had trouble snapping out of “editor mode” and back into whatever mode I’m in when I write.  This makes it more difficult to write blogs — even short ones — as much of my energy is being applied elsewhere.

The ability to write words is something I’ve called the “alpha state,” also known as the best place to be for a writer.  This is when words flow naturally, and it’s seemingly easy to tell a story.  I say “seemingly” because once you’re in the editing phase, you realize how much more work there is yet to do.

That’s why I thought today might be a good day to say a few specific words about editing.  Because even though I’ve not specifically talked much about editing, it’s an extremely important part of any writer’s job whether you call yourself a “writer/editor” or not.

Writers often consider editors to be a “necessary evil” even if they, too, are editors.  This is one of the odder things about the whole “writing/editing” profession; you don’t start editing unless you know something about writing, and you also don’t start editing unless you really enjoy writing (or at the very least, enjoy reading).

Yet the myth of the “Evil Editor” can’t help but persist, especially among writers who are just starting out or those who haven’t worked with many editors over time.  I don’t know how this myth got started, but it really needs to come to an end.  Pronto.

I can guarantee to you that, as an editor, I don’t go out of my way to cause trouble for writers.  I understand writers (I should, because I am one), and I also understand the worry that an editor possibly won’t understand what you’re writing, and thus won’t be of any use to you.

For those extremely nervous writers out there (I won’t call you “nervous Nellies,” as at least some of your nerves are justifiable, if not actually justified), you need to remember that a good editor helps you clarify your thoughts and clean up your manuscript.  Editors exist to help writers, to help polish up that gem of a story you have that’s ready to go out into the big, wide world — otherwise, what would be the point?

I mean, if editors were out there hoping for “perks,” the profession would’ve died out long ago.

Smart writers want editors to look over their work and give suggestions for improvement — at least, I know I want as much editorial help as I can find.  Because while my writing is sound, and my ideas are fresh, why not run it by an editor and make my book even better?

Also, remember that even if you, the writer, don’t always agree with your editor, usually some sort of consensus can be reached if the lines of communication remain open.  And if you’re willing to trust in the process — and not just eschew all editing because your book is perfect as it is, thank you.

Bottom line?  You need to stop fearing the editor, or at least fearing the editorial process.  Because your editor — whomever he or she may turn out to be — can help you improve your manuscript.

And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?


Note: For those of you who would prefer not to deal with editors, and think your work is perfect as it stands, thank you very many — I have news.

It isn’t.

We all need editing.  Every single last solitary one of us.

So rather than fearing the editorial process, or worse, disdaining it as unnecessary, you need to work with it.

Because it’s part of being a professional writer.

And if you’re in this business to be an obnoxious boor, and are insistent that you do not need editing or editors because you are perfect in every conceivable way and the words you’ve written don’t need editing because of your self-same perfection . . . and you then proceed to denigrate editors and editing whenever you can . . . all I can say to you is this:

Grow up.  (Seriously.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 17, 2013 at 1:25 am

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