Wednesday, September 9, 2015
To editors: an incoherent ramble in your honour
There's a very famous author out there who makes a lot more money than me, who, also famously, doesn't use an editor. And, as someone who's brain is currently mush thanks to spending the last few hours straight editing Darker Space, I get it. I do. Editing hurts my brain. But the simple fact that I can't remember my own name right now does not mean that I will ever think that editors are unnecessary.
Because, frankly, I'm not that egotistical and I hope I never will be. There is always something I miss. There is always something my awesome beta readers miss. And there will always, in anything I do, be some way I can improve.
Case in point: Darker Space. This is probably the most polished manuscript I've ever sent into an editor. God knows it should have been. I stared at it for long enough.
And there was not a single page that came back without an edit on it. Sometimes it was just a comma, and sometimes it was a missing word, and sometimes it was just a "Um...you know this doesn't make sense, right?"
When you're writing a thing, and when you've been staring at it for what feels like your entire life, your brain does this thing where it sees what you think you wrote, even though it turns out what you wrote was total gibberish. But it's not just that stuff an editor will fix it. You editor will tell you when a plot point simply doesn't make sense, or when a character suddenly acts like a completely different person with a completely different motivation, or (thanks, Katriena!) when a character thinks back to a particularly traumatic scene that happened earlier on, and apparently forgets the other guy specifically wasn't wearing boots. That's the sort of clanger that I didn't spot, but you can bet every reader would have!
So yes, in some respects I hate editing. It's slow work, and it's not usually very exciting AND I'VE READ THIS S MANY TIMES I WANT TO PRINT IT OUT AND BURN IT UNDER THE LIGHT OF THE FULL MOON, but it's necessary. An editor is the person who takes your sometimes incomprehensible word vomit (and by your, of course I mean mine) and actually shapes it into a book.
Editors are geniuses. They know what comma splices are and everything, whereas I have to Google it every time.
Editors are magicians. They know what I'm saying even when, half the time, I wasn't that sure.
And, incredibly, editors are modest. Okay, so writers are the ones that put the words on the page, but editors are the ones that make sure those words are publishable, and reach readers. And guess what? They don't take any of the credit? It's not their names on the covers. And that's kind of awesome.
So yeah, I hope that I will never become the sort of writer who thinks she doesn't need an editor. If that ever happens, please slap me.
There are probably at least three typos and a million extraneous commas in this blog post. I will never not need an editor.