Where have all my editors gone?
It used to be that my favorite thing about writing was getting published. It excited me to no end to think that thousands of people would be reading what I had written. As time has gone on, however, I’ve discovered a new pleasure: I’m becoming an editing addict. Not as in editing other people’s stuff, but as in being edited myself.
I used to consider being edited a necessary evil, especially when it came to my creative work. It seemed to me that I would labor to create something beautiful, only to hand it on to people with meat cleavers for brains. They would often overstep their bounds by rearranging paragraphs, revealing what they thought were holes, even suggesting entirely different beginnings or endings. They would hand me back what looked like Frankenstein’s monster.
I hated this, because my goal was publication, and every time someone edited my work, he or she was pushing me away from my goal. Why didn’t these people just recognize the good in my writing and let me get on with things?
There was a reason; and it was a good one. But back then, I was too ill-versed to understand just how deep and wide the complexities of writing are. In fact, I’m pretty sure I still have only an inkling of that vastness.
Now that I’m an editor, I’m beginning to keenly miss having an editor to work with. I’m not saying that none of my writing friends will touch my work anymore; I actually have one writing friend whose judgment I trust completely. I could hand her anything I’ve written, confident that she would inevitably improve it by at least 100 percent.
I’m talking about missing working with an editor whose reputation and salary rides on the quality of the work in his or her publication. Someone who is personally and professionally invested in making sure my work is as good as it can be. Someone whose organization is going to pay real money to print my work. I really enjoyed working with Dan Wotherspoon when he was Sunstone’s editor. He has a fine, incisive mind that could cut to the heart of an essay. But he’s off doing other things now, and I wouldn’t expect him to be willing to pour that kind of time into me anymore.
So, the editorials I write for each magazine work just fine. I’m not displeased with them. I just want that thrill of watching a piece of writing surpass my original expectations. And I can’t do that alone.