sky media

RE: Oh, editing
11 May, 2006, 11:23 am
Filed under: Authors, Editors, Publishers

If we link to So New Media Blog today, it might well mean that we've been directing you to those fellows twice – in less than a week, too. Yes, we know: we as may well copy and paste all of their blog posts on this blog to facilitate the transition, but, you know, they probably wouldn't agree in us doing so.

Okay, we're getting boring so there's the link!

James Stegall, publisher of So New Media has an interesting piece about "life as an indie book publisher." We exagerated that one because it's not exactly as extensive as those words between the inverted commas appear to convey. James ponders for some minutes or editing, in particular on how it is touchy territory.

Editing is always touchy territory. In my writing, I always appreciate the Simon Cowell approach. . . but some writers can't deal with it. Since most of my training is as a journalist, I've always believed that writing means rewriting, and the text doesn't belong to anybody except its own internal logic and whatever it takes to make it stronger, better and shockingly clear. That person is usually an editor. A true editor attacks words from every possible angle, trying their damndest to knock them down and prove them meaningless – which is what you fear all along (at least for me), that you're not really saying anything.

Well, we agree to a certain extent. A good editor undoubtedly helps to make a piece of writing much stronger and clearer but better? Sure better, because the piece is now stronger and clearer, however, does he necessarilly makes it any better, in terms of ideas or spirit of the book? I mean, there's no way an editor can connect 100% with the feelings/inner soul that a writer has put on paper so while editing (duh!), instead of making the piece better, the editor may contribute in making the story, well, worst.

This can happen, for instance, when the editor removes some of the "peripheral dressings" of the story, which, to the eyes of the writer, are as important as ever for the reader to get a better view of the story/plot/whatever and to be better incurred in the atmosphere. In the eyes of the editor though, those "peripheral dressings" only contribute in making the story/plot/whatever less interesting in the sense that they are synonyms for more words for the reader to read until he gets to the great car-chase chapter or something.

An editor is the most corporate and less-indie character in an indie press. You can't blame him because, that's his job. While editing, the editor permanently has part of his mind focused on the book's future sales and marketing. In other words, there's a part of the editor that wants to include what the readers like to read (to boost sales) as well and this may lead to a laissez-aller of what the writer's whole message is about.

When an indie writer writes something, he's inspired and fires whatever comes into his mind. The editor then has to tidy things up a little bit but, according to us, the editor should not interfere with the piece he's editing. An editor is damn important, sure, but let them work with orthography, vocabulary and punctiation only.
Khalil A.