The audio version of this post appears below. Just click on “play”.
If you’ve read any of my stuff and you have anything north of an 8th grade education, then you’ve noticed I wield a lot of power over my editors. My grammar ain’t so good at times, my sentence structure occasionally makes one think I just go around creating my own languages and my punctuation reflects exactly how I talk. In fact, one of the reasons I got such a late start to writing is my fear of editors. I’ve always seen editors as judges, which is completely ridiculous. The writer/editor relationship is one of the most important aspects of a successful writing career.
However, and to me this is a big however – my feeling is that I prefer my editors to be more involved in the story aspect of the business. I like a lot of input and I use quite a bit of what I get. Of course, the egotist in me does kick in and I do my share of overriding, but if my stuff is any good at all, it’s hugely because of the input of my proofreaders and editors. I am a perfectionist in terms of spelling ( I was enraged when I found the e-published version of my book 5 Tales had a small spelling error) and the flow of the story, but if there is an errant comma somewhere it’s usually because I want the sentence to read in a cadence that reflects how I would tell the story orally.
It’s also the way I want to read other people’s work. I want to know what it is they are thinking, not their editors. I can tell when something has lost its original message even if it’s ever so slightly and that just pisses me off. I’ll forgive a misplaced gerund if the main message comes through loud and clear. I think things need to be cohesive and flow, of course. For instance Gertrude Stein’s work, which I’ve mentioned before makes me want to commit seppuku. Her editors must have had to smoke a lot of opium before trying to make sense of that rubble.
Hunter S. Thompson is easily one of my favorite personalities ever. I don’t really enjoy reading his stuff but I do love reading about him and I think that’s a tragedy. We all know the good doctor thrived and worked hard to keep his reputation as a drug addled genius – so hard, that many believe he’d lost the ability to write decades before his death. There are scads of accounts told by his editors at Rolling Stone including Jann Wenner, about how hard they worked editing Hunter’s stuff. It’s legendary. I would love to see the originals of all Hunter’s work – I bet I would like that a lot more than the edited versions floating around out there. Hunter was a genius for sure, you can tell just from his quotes, but like Hunter’s love of the booze and drugs, I want my Hunter un-watered down and straight up.
Self publishing in my humble opinion has helped to bring some really good writing to the table that if it were to be heavily edited by some big publisher would lose it’s panache. It has also brought some real shit into the picture, some of which is just unreadable, but the savvy reader has always known how to separate the wheat from the chafe. I write for the readers to tell what I hope are entertaining stories I have somehow harnessed from the chaos in my head. Obviously, I don’t wish to appear a literary idiot, but I also don’t want the content or tone of my work changed. I want my work to come out the literary birth canal exactly as I envisioned.
As you can probably tell – I don’t send these posts to the editors! (who probably will never speak to me again)