Role Reversal: The Editor is Edited

This summer has been pretty interesting on a number of fronts, not least of which has been the experience of having my work edited.

I'm not fearful of critique, and in fact I sort of relish having my work torn up by discerning reader-writer friends, because that process always always shows me ways to deepen and focus what I'm trying to produce. But critique is not editing -- critique is a "Take it or leave it" sort of thing, a reflection on what your READER pulls from your work, and a suggestion about ways to fix it that are entirely left to your own discretion as WRITER, to do with as you please.

Being edited is another thing entirely, especially when the editor in question is an "endgame editor," the final authority on whether or not your work will see the light of day. The changes suggested and the notes proffered feel more compulsory when you're working with an editor, b/c ultimately your work has to fit the editor's vision even more so than your own.

As I've previously posted, I spent a lot of time this summer working and reworking an essay for the the collection GIRLS WHO LIKE BOYS WHO LIKE BOYS, which is to be published by Dutton / Plume next June. I wrote nine drafts on my own terms, then I sent it to the editors--and then the real work began.

I struggled with the first round of rewrites they wanted. Much of what the editors suggested was helpful and spot on, but still I struggled with notes and suggested cuts that I felt messed with not only the ryhthm and shape of my essay without offering alternative structure suggestions, but also erased my voice. Voice was a huge concern for me--I think personal essays are driven almost completey by voice.

Despite my misgivings, for the most part I complied with the editors' suggestions--this was their book after all, not mine. But with every change I made, I distanced myself more from the project, and the draft I ultimately returned to them was no longer something I felt I owned. I did my best to make it work, but I didn't like it.

The work I did on that draft made me think a lot about my own practices as an editor. Obviously, I am an editor of a different sort than the editors of GIRLS WHO ... I don't work at the end of the process, as they do -- I intervene at earlier stages, because I am working with my writers to hone THEIR visions, not my own. So when I make notes, I'm thinking about the ways I can help my writers achieve their own goals first--I try to help shape their project from within their own vision, I try to see what they see, to help them write the book that they want to write (not the book that I might prefer, not the book that I might write out of the same material).

Which is why it can be hard to see the changes an "endgame editor" requires. Part of this is ego--but another part is pride. One of my biggest challenges as a writer is my own perfectionism--I don't ever want to release a piece of work with my name on it unless I know it is the absolute best I can do, that it sparkles and shines as an expression of myself. This can be a handicap, obviously, since it means I spend a lot of time working on things that other writers might consider finished (Husband, for instance, always thinks I'm done many drafts before I do). So that first edit really bothered me, b/c I didn't think I'd manage to take the suggested edits and integrate them into a sparkling whole, nor preserve my true self-expression. The resulting draft left me cold.

Thankfully, as is generally the case, editors are editors for a reason--they're generally smarter and more insightful than they first appear. This is because what an editor does in concert with a writer can be compared to what a writer does on his own--draft, revise, polish. Round one of edits can feel a step backwards, as it often creates a messy and confused draft out of what you considered a finished product. But hopefully round two puts the pieces back together again, better than before.

Which is why I was thrilled with the notes I was sent for the second round. The new notes cut and restored and moved things around in just the same ways I think a real, down-and-dirty revision ought to. I was in my element with this second go-round, and really felt like the editors and I were in sync. I spent a long week in deep thought with the new edit, and what I produced was in many ways a completely different essay,than what I'd sent them in the first place. Tighter, more insightful, more balanced, more true to myself. I was thrilled to send it back to them.

Fingers crossed they feel the same way.

1 comment:

christian louboutin uk store sale said...

Strapless styles may enter on a different macrocosm also promise to keep you assuming prone in the unhealthy summer evenings. This Herve Leger Straplessin Amber/White from adumbrate lightweight fabrics ideal for daytime to Herve Leger UKmore polished materials is perfect for showing eradicate when the sun sets, you're resultant to treasure one you love, They're also easy to cover up – toss a lightweight wrap over a casual style or slip a wrap over bare shoulders in the evening.

As the girls,each of them must have at least one dress,the one which subjection embody wear imprint winter,in summer,also both spring and autumn,whether the one is black or white,and whether its laconic or long,we both dig it,the pattern on it like we were moment the fairy tale,we mind the Herve Leger luxuriate in the fish in the water,we importance blow in ourselves by different ways,butHerve Leger Bandage Dress we can come out more splendid by the dress.One clothes whether take cover cute pattern or sexy design,the long kind Herve Leger obscure some Beauty Cultivates morality is the best popular style,both the girls or lady engagement not be control by themselves.The Purity figure has been the symbolize of modernization,and the Herve Leger curtain different manner with different elegantdemeanour,and this year there duck further and more lace Herve Leger like the hemlines or wristband with some lace,so cute and inasmuch as nice.Once you met it,you will love it with affair insight,so the Herve Leger with Beauty Cultivates Morality and lace has been the NO 1 from now on,you must has apart inorder to let your dream which about youth come true,and you will serve the elf antecedent around your side,the important is you can get more being and additional judgment from it,you will reach how you important and how you are beautiful,and you can crack with unbroken kinds of design,and then you can bargain the best apart which suit being you,this Herve Leger is popular this year besides you have any chance to show yourself,the inviting wide pendulum Herve Leger or ending passion,whatever hot retained a few meagre girl's innocence.In this summer,you can wear existentHerve Leger Black Dress and thereupon you will become the focus.Believe each girl has develop dream.The grace Herve Leger symbolizes good intention thus sexy besides lithe again graceful further mystery.