Friday, 11 January 2019

The loneliness of the long-distance editor

Just an update on what I'm up to. I've been getting first edits off to the authors this week - there's just one left to do at the weekend.

Here's the stats:

9 stories (chosen blind, i.e. without knowing who wrote them)

5x M/F
2x M/M
2x F/F

3x Zombies
3x UK spelling, 6x USA spelling and/or setting.

According to publisher Anna Sky (who has access to legal names on contracts), 5 of the authors are women, 4 are men.

Honestly, I could not be happier! I think I've got an amazing, very eclectic mix of tales. They vary from literary to bawdy, hopeful to heartbreaking, historical to SF.

And I just LOVE the process of being an editor. It feels like I'm polishing up pieces of jewellery that have been loaned by craftspeople to put on display - and it's such an honour to work with these beautifully wrought pieces.

It's also terrifying, because I've been on the other side of the process. I know how defensive I get whenever I see an editor's red pen on my work. My instinct is to protect my creation - every word choice, every semi-colon (... especially the semi-colons!). I've probably wound up 9 very talented authors this week, I'm sure, to some extent or another.

The only thing is, I also don't like an editor who says "Yeah, everything's fine" for my work. I don't believe them. I'm too close to the story - I can't see the writing as the reader out there will. I know I need an outside eye, coming to the text cold, needing to be convinced. The editor is there, in large part, to advocate for future readers. To say "Okay, I don't think that bit is entirely clear - can you just tweak it a bit?"

So I'm nervous, and I don't want to piss anyone off, and I know my analytical streak can be a bit domineering if I don't keep an eye on it... but I've got to make the best anthology I possibly can.

And I honestly think it's going to be awesome 💖💖💖


Madeline Moore said...

When editing, I sometimes assume the writer knows I like the work, so I just leap right into critiquing the bits I don't like. I believe I learned my lesson when Michael felt compelled to ask, "But do you like it?" but I can't be sure.
So, you know, say the nice bit before you start hacking at their limbs.
- My editorial advice, for what it's worth.

Janine Ashbless said...

Thank you - and yes, it's VERY good advice.
I've had one editor (dumped on me by a big publisher) who in no way gave any impression that she liked my work. It was scarring. I've learned a lot from being edited (good and bad!)
I try to put comments in on odd bits I think strike me really well - funny, clever or moving, or maybe just really well written.
Then I go for the limbs... ;-)