“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
~ Thomas Mann (1875-1955)
“A good editor is someone who cares a little less about the author’s needs than the reader’s.” ~
Unfortunately, authors too often allow their ego to take the front seat. The matter is not even about what a writer “needs”. The want takes over. The editor then faces the risk of being viewed as an adversary.
“It has been our experience that American houses insist on very comprehensive editing; that English houses as a rule require little or none and are inclined to go along with the author’s script almost without query. The Canadian practice is just what you would expect–a middle-of-the-road course. We think the Americans edit too heavily and interfere with the author’s rights. We think that the English publishers don’t take enough editorial responsibility. Naturally, then, we consider our editing to be just about perfect. There’s no doubt about it, we Canadians are a superior breed! (in a letter to author Margaret Laurence, dated May, 1960)” ~ Jack McClelland
“I am the King of Rome, and above grammar.” ~ Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor (1368-1437)
Who among us is an emperor with utmost arrogance to conclude that we are above all rules and established traditions of sensible writing? Alas, Sigismund!
It is as if Oscar Wilde is voicing my dilemma . . .
“I have been correcting the proofs of my poems. In the morning, after hard work, I took a comma out of one sentence . . . In the afternoon I put it back again.” ~ Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
The focus of the following quote seems to be on newspaper articles. However, every observation and conclusion that Peter Drucker stresses with regard to the processes of writing and editing, directly relate to the same processes when any genre is concerned.
“Every first-rate editor I have ever heard of reads, edits and rewrites every word that goes into his publication . . . Good editors are not ‘permissive’; they do not let their colleagues do ‘their thing’; they make sure that everybody does the ‘paper’s thing.’ A good, let alone a great editor is an obsessive autocrat with a whim of iron, who rewrites and rewrites, cuts and slashes, until every piece is exactly the way he thinks it should have been done.” ~ Peter Drucker (1909-2005)
This time, I would love to hear from you your own thoughts on writing and editing, dear Reader. Please use the comment section to share your stance on these processes.
“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.” ~ T.S. Eliot
This week’s quote describes me to a T.
“Learn to enjoy this tidying process. I don’t like to write; I like to have written. But I love to rewrite. I especially like to cut: to press the DELETE key and see an unnecessary word or phrase or sentence vanish into the electricity. I like to replace a humdrum word with one that has more precision or color. I like to strengthen the transition between one sentence and another. I like to rephrase a drab sentence to give it a more pleasing rhythm or a more graceful musical line. With every small refinement I feel that I’m coming nearer to where I would like to arrive, and when I finally get there I know it was the rewriting, not the writing, that wont the game.” ~ William Zinsser