I apologize for the delay in this post; however, this has been due to a lack of sponsorship. Please see below.
I am, by profession, an editor. This is, for better or worse, the most natural realization of my inner being. I took Engl 410 Editing for Publction (that's what my AIM calls it) my second senior year from Doris Dant. One day, Don Norton was a bit slow in letting out his class prior to us. He asked what class we were, and then he waxed philosophical. "Anyone can be taught editing skills, but truly great editors are born." I only share this because I, in all my humility, think you should know going into this post that I am a truly great editor. Fortunately, there isn't a soul who currently reads this blog who can refute this claim. At least, not yet.
I didn't always know I was an editor; I had six majors--History, Secondary Education; International Relations; Accounting; Construction Management; Art History--in college before I graduated with my bachelor's. My education was quite well rounded, if I do say so myself, and my parents will confirm that. I believe I am one of the few students at BYU to have had a class in every building on campus, including the elusive B-66.
You think I digress, but this is relevant information. You will notice the lack of an English major. No, I bounced from college to college, discipline to discipline, and course to course, gleaning information here and tidbits there. But, unbeknownst to me at the time, an editor must know a whole lot o' crap. And if you couple my plethora of studies with the Retention of Useless Knowledge gene I inherited from my dad, I was well on my way to being an editor.
While in my final major (Art History), I discovered my love of editing. My favorite professor (Martha Peacock for those who need numerous details) determined our grades on three things: midterm exam, paper, final exam. Part of the paper assignment was to exchange papers with a classmate and edit your peer's paper. That was an assignment I could get into. In the four classes I had from Dr. Peacock, I managed to develop quite the reputation. Mostly because the paper came back with me having written more on the page than the student who handed it in. I would reorganize structure and hone word choice. I would question arguments. The last class I had from Dr. Peacock, she mentioned prior to the swap that the Powers That Be were smiling down upon the student who received my attention. Yea, said student would practically be guaranteed an A merely by doing what I told said student to do.
So this is how I discovered that I am an editor. I then took the Engl 410 class. Dr. Dant was less than impressed with me at the beginning because I wasn't an English major and had never taken an English class. She felt certain that I was doomed to failure. Which, of course, is why I was the only student at the end of the semester to whom she offered a paid internship at BYU Studies. (The other girl who got an internship had to do it for credit, though she was paid the following term.)
Anyway, I decided to stay on at BYU to get a master's in English because I thought it would be good to have some actual English training. Come to find out, actual English training wasn't even necessary to enter into my field. Experience is what counts. Woo hoo! I took off for New York one summer to attend NYU's Summer Publishing Institute. I learned the bones of the business and made great contacts, even if I didn't actually use any of those contacts to get a job. That's the history of my becoming a bona fide, professional editor.
I feel that I should be clear on one point. I'm an editor. I'm not an editor who wishes I were an author. As evidence in support of this claim, I offer up my master's thesis. You know, the one I never wrote because I didn't want to write it. Mom likes to point this out regularly, especially as it related to my many years at the university with only one degree to show for it. I have no interest in writing. Although I do find myself writing now, but that's the fault of Coworker and Iguana, who have formed a writers group because they like to write. They invited me to join, and I'm not going to pass up an opportunity to sit around and discuss writing. But Coworker seems to believe in some Pact of Mutual Vulnerability; therefore, I must write. This is further enhanced by prodding from Fobby. But that's neither here nor there.
Anyway, I mention this because I am not an editor who will rewrite my authors' books for them. That's their job. I may send them a rewrite letter with a phrase akin to You've put in a lot of great effort with this manuscript; however, your audience is only interested in such and such plot, and so as you rewrite, I request that you eliminate everything that is not pertinent to this plot. Oops. Not my fault that you are now left with only five pages. Again also not my fault that you wrote about a forty-five year old woman's issues with pregnancy and high blood pressure and too much stress from her Relief Society calling. In a book geared for teenage girls. (For the record, she completely rewrote the book. And it came back significantly improved and actually geared toward her audience.)
I am the Happy Cutter. I like the bare bones, even if that isn't evidenced by this post. I recently asked an author to cut 10% of his most recent novel. He balked. He complained. He eventually cut about 5%. Good for him. He told me it was as honed as it could possibly be. There was not another single word that could possibly be cut. I cut 10% more.
Now, I know I come across as harsh and abrasive; Cicada is not the first person to accuse me of having little interest in winning friends and influencing people. I acknowledge that I am rather, well, forceful in my opinions. But that stems from my editing philosophy. I guess it's a bit renegade. You see, editors are the bridges between authors and publishers. Editors are the only people in the publishing house who have actually read the book and care about its artistic integrity. Marketing doesn't; marketing sees dollar signs and ker-ching ker-ching. Sales doesn't; sales sees, well, sales. Art doesn't; art sees grand sweeping vistas of autumn fields, even if the book takes place in the middle of a barren winter on the Canadian plains. (To be fair, they're not going to complain if it's good stuff, but it actually being good doesn't really do much for their task list.) So the editor is the go-between. Editors must make everyone happy, including the poor, abused artists and the Big Bosses Who Sign the Not-As-Big-As-I-Would-Wish-Them-to-Be Checks.
But like I'm said, I'm a bit of a renegade. My loyalty is not to the publisher or the author; it's to the book. If the publisher wants a fast-paced action prologue that I feel destroys the methodical development that is so crucial to the character of the book, I won't put it in. Likewise, if the author wants an epilogue because he must tie up every loose end and it has his favorite sentence in the whole book and I feel that the epilogue destroys the emotional impact of the resolution of the book, I will do everything in my power to convince the author to eliminate the epilogue, even if it requires a number of hours on the phone and myriad e-mail exchanges over a course of days resulting in a compromise where the chapter gets inserted a few chapters prior to the end of the book and the author must kill off a favorite character five years prior to when the character actually dies.
As much as my willful behavior may irritate publisher and author alike, everyone is pleased in the end, because the book is good. And books are king.
This post has been brought to you by Ennio Morricone. Sure, John Williams and Danny Elfman seem to be the masters of the movie soundtrack; however, neither has produced a melody so haunting and beautiful and exquisite as "Gabriel's Oboe."
You may have noticed there is no author sponsor this post. As I was preparing last week, I realized I don't have anyone who could feasibly sponsor as I don't think I've read anything by an E author. I could have Bart Ehrman sponsor, but as you'll notice, his book is still in the Accumulating on the Nightstand list.
And this brings me to my request. I have gone through and planned the sponsors for the remainder of the alphabiography. Some letters lack musical sponsors, some authorial sponsors. If you have suggestions, please let me know.
In need of musical sponsors: H U X Z
In need of authorial sponsors: I U X
Thank you for your support.
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