Death to Editors!
Yes, I am calling for an entire way of life to be summarily dismissed, to have all of the editors in this world drug out into the street and eradicated.
Well not exactly.
Yesterday I visited The Passive Voice, a blog about the publishing industry, and it had quoted a large section of an article written at Gawker.com. The article spoke against editors. Quickly I linked over and read the the article in full and with great vigor.
It connected with me as an editor myself (I’ve helped many friends in my time with their own work – but not professionally), but most importantly it connected to me as a writer (that didn’t believe he needed an editor yet was always made to think so).
No matter where in the world you are in writing and publishing, editors are seen as a must have. That assertion never sat well with me. It is as though someone says: “your work just isn’t good enough on your own.” I think that is bullshit.
I can agree on the pro-editor side for a few points:
- A good editor would challenge the writer to constantly improve
- A good editor can catch and help to correct most grammatical errors (as grammar education was always lacking throughout this writer’s life).
- A good editor will ask the right questions to ensure the writer is making the right decisions with their piece.
(The challenge part is what I find most important.)
And for this we are expected to shell out considerable funds for where a good set of alpha and beta readers as well as strong disciplinary processes can easily suffice. (And we cannot forget that we as writers should have some decent grammar skills to show at the first word.) Particularly in fiction, the only goal is to get the reader to turn the page. While an editor may help to provide a smooth pavement with few potholes for the reader’s eyes to fall into, it does little for the scenery around the path or the destination.
But here we are in an era where if you don’t have an editor, you are almost shamed into non-importance.
“That work wasn’t edited! It MUST be trash!”
“Oh, he/she should’ve paid for an editor, I can’t see anything but errors!”
Let’s face it… I’ve read many “professionally edited” books where I would have stained the pages a deep red had I had my editing pen with me. As the Gawker article suggests, give an editor a previously buttoned-up, heavily edited article poised as a draft and they will happily find you errors.
And while doing a quick little search, not much about editors as a must have in writing is found in history beyond assembling anthologies. Editors were there to ensure a cohesion of voice, not as a critical eye to bully us writers into submission plaguing off of what we already believe: that our work just isn’t good enough without them. They appear to have perpetuated a market virtually requiring their very existence. You at least have to give them credit for that feat.
Maybe someday I will find someone I am willing to have as my full-time editor. For now, mostly since I am poor and cannot part with the monetary funds to secure one, I will pass on editors. Furthermore, I haven’t been convinced of their greater importance in writing. At least not yet. Though I did have one good experience, it still hasn’t solidified the need in my view. Just get yourself some good alpha and beta readers and some grammar lessons. Things will work out fine. Hell, the work might even feel more natural.
And no, this isn’t me saying my work is perfect as is, thank.you.very.much.
-No editors were harmed (or used… and god is that a terrible tragedy… this article could’ve been so much more interesting and well put together) in the writing of this article… but they are currently being hunted.