A good read.

Jim recommended this Salon piece on editing in the comments of the previous post, but it’s so good I’m promoting it to the main page.

Fave passage:

To people not in the business, editing is a mysterious thing. (Actually, it’s mysterious to most bloggers, who despite having been in existence for less than 10 years, probably outnumber every writer who ever wrote. But more on them later.) Many times over the past 20 years, people have asked me, “What exactly does an editor do?”

It’s not an easy question to answer. Editors are craftsmen, ghosts, psychiatrists, bullies, sparring partners, experts, enablers, ignoramuses, translators, writers, goalies, friends, foremen, wimps, ditch diggers, mind readers, coaches, bomb throwers, muses and spittoons — sometimes all while working on the same piece. Early in my editing career I was startled when, after we had finished an edit, a crusty, hard-bitten culture writer, a woman at least twice my age, told me, “That was great — better than sex!”

Gary Kamiya gets the byline. Enjoy.

Posted at 10:20 am in Media |

10 responses to “A good read.”

  1. Danny said on August 2, 2007 at 11:43 am

    That excerpt reminds me that Andrew Keen has a book out called “Cult of the Amateur.” I’ve not read it, but part of it is a criticism of bloggers, mostly to do with their inaccuracy with facts, not grammar.

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  2. WP Denver said on August 2, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Yeah, I’m about 30 pages into “Cult of the Amateur,” and I may not get any farther. Lots of obscure Web 2.0 references, larded out with aimless blather. Which is to say, the guy needed an editor.

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  3. Jim said on August 2, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    A good writer appreciates a good editor. A weak writer assumes every keystroke is an ounce of gold, unappreciated by weak-livered, bleary-eyed, fuddy-duddy editors.

    By the way, the great Wayne Steffen, former editor of the IPFW Communicator, sent me that link. I can’t take credit for finding it on my own!

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  4. Kirk said on August 2, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Right you are, Jim. Sometimes the good ones need awhile to realize it, but eventually they come around.

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  5. Bill said on August 2, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    As H. G. Wells said:

    No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.

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  6. ellen said on August 2, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    Editing the reporters gets you ready for handling the photographers.

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  7. alex said on August 2, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    He had me howling with “Rod McKuenlike treacle” and a few other choice barbs. And he’s dead-on.

    I used to edit lawyers by day and pornographers by night, and I must say that the latter were a lot less vain and really didn’t give a fuck what I did with their stuff while the former could be quite taken aback that someone with a B.A. in English would presume to know better than someone with a J.D. (and undergrad degrees in Lord knows what, but obviously things that didn’t involve much in the way of writing). People who write smut actually seem to understand economy; they tease and then they cut to the good part. Lawyers, on the other hand, digress to show off how learned they are and inflate their prose the same way they pad their billing.

    As Nance pointed out, it all comes down to whether you have an ear for the music. Those who are titillated by language seem to hear it better than those who are merely impressed with it.

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  8. Emma said on August 3, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Still have fond memories of Alan as my editor. Never afraid to tell me something I wrote “sounded like a cologne ad.” I miss him.

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  9. Danny said on August 3, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Bill, thanks for the quote from Wells. I grew up reading him, but I don’t [edit: death to adverbs] know much about him. Such is the life of an author, I guess.

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  10. MichaelG said on August 3, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Been gone for a couple of days and just read Gary Kamiya’s excellent article. It should be mandatory reading for everyone who puts paws to keyboard.

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