Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Kindest Cuts

If you are the kind of writer who doubts you need an editor then you are not reading nearly enough!
That's the conclusion I came to during my reading this summer (some thoughts about what I read at the end) and the inspiration I hope other writers consider.

This is not a 'blame the editor' kind of deal here, this is a THANK YOU to every editor I've ever had whose keen eye and kind cuts shaped my books into something more readable, more reachable than my original offering. I've always said "I never had an editor make a book worse by cutting something." (there have been a couple exceptions to that but in 36 books, well, that speaks to the kinds of great editors are out there!) Editors are partners. They are a writer's safety net. They do not want a crummy book out there with their stamp on it any more than you do.

I actually wish I had more editors in my life, editors FOR my life, especially when I am about to do or say something really stupid! (tap tap tap - is that really want you meant to say/do?) Someone to point out the inconsistencies in my thinking, the things I have missed that might make a world of difference in the outcome, and someone to tell me when I've done a good job.

Of course in life as in writing, you are responsible for yourself. Your name is on the cover and you are the one who has to live with the consequences. I have some friends like that, but really, in life we're mostly out there on our own, editorless. It makes me appreciate those good friends and editors all the more. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

My summer reading:
I was going to name names but decided that might be tacky and I don't want to stray into book review territory. It's about how editing might have changed these books so I'll make up my own titles for the tomes to give an idea of what kind of book/issue is bugging me.

Life Kicked Me in the Teeth and what I Learned from It: what was touted as an inspirational personal story that would change how we think about a pretty common health issue read like a Doctoral Thesis without the pizzazz. I kept thinking the whole time I have never had an editor who would have let me put something like this out without at least challenging me to get to the point, connect to the readers, make it real.
My daughter's assessment of it: A feast of toast. That summed it up perfectly :)

Itty Bitty B-lister with Big, Big Talent, a memoir - Love this actress, love to see her and hear her in roles and in interviews. Can't help wondering if her editor suffered from the same case of star struckiness. Again, a case of not getting to the point or sticking to one point with a big dose of what IS your point(half way through the book and we know more about stuff done in college than about the 20 years since in show biz).

Selling Made Simple = maybe too simple as this motivational book, many years in print but recently redone for the modern marketplace has wonderful basic idea darts presented with the all the deft clarity of dropping cinder blocks. And I mean blocks. Blocks of text that hid a gem of information in repetitive restatements of that information, sometimes up to 4 times per page. A shift in editing could have brought that out. If less is more, this book could have been a whole lot more!