I edit books and I love what I do. I know people who think work is a four-letter word (um …), who think they’re supposed to dislike their jobs—man’s life is toil, and all that—but I genuinely love what I do for a living, every day. I figure this has got to be good for all parties concerned.
I mean, my authors trust me to treat their manuscripts with respect, and I do. Sure, I’m a paid critic; the publisher trusts me to know what needs work, what readers will think, and what it will take to make the book the very best it can be. Sometimes I have to be the bearer of (ahem) unpleasant tidings. But I try to do that from the perspective of cheerleader, best friend, colleague—not parent, boss, or annoyed lab partner.
Sometimes it’s a fine line. :)
One of the first authors I ever worked with called me up and said, “I just have one question: are you working on a novel?” It wasn’t a question I was expecting, and I answered in the negative, which was—and still is—the truth. (I can honestly say I harbor no fantasies about seeing my name on the cover of a book. I wrote a couple of novels in my thirties, never shopped them around because they were … Just. Too. Awful. Now I’m over it. Really. I know how hard it is to write a book, my friend, and I just don’t have the heart for it any more.) “You’re not? Thank God!” my author said. I understand now that many developmental editors do end up writing; and sometimes authors end up wondering if their editors are saving the best bits, you know, for their own books.
Well, no. Not me. I love working on the books of others too much. Each manuscript is like a puzzle, and I get to solve it. (Yes, I adore jigsaw puzzles.) Not without help, of course. I love the collaborative aspect of editing, the give and take. I love brainstorming. I love those e-mails out of the blue that begin, “I’ve been working on a new story. What would you think if …”
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