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Steven Augustine

This is a brave post on more than one level.

Jonathan Mayhew

There used to be a certain mytique around the figure of the editor. I'm reminded that Gil Sorrentino was an editor at Grove Press in the glory days. (See the interview with him in the Grove Press reader.)


There's something to be said for a good editor—it's a fine line though. Editors in mass media are suspect, altogether, too much money involved. Too much ego. All that nonsense about microchips and violins is so Victorian, its hard to believe there are still people who think that way in the world.


The quotes you've selected are pretty overblown, for sure--but Dan, are you saying that editors are, indeed, irrelevant (or justifiably endangered)? Editing IS a craft in itself, and an author CAN benefit greatly from a good editor. Or are you merely lampooning one man's inflated ego?


(sorry, Daniel - not Dan)

Dan Green

It is Dan.

I'm saying that editors do a good job at enforcing party lines. A few editors do some writers some good. Most are in the way.


Apparently Gary Kamiya's editor doesn't bother querying cliches.

"Brave new world."

Remember Prospero's reply:

"'Tis new to thee."

And his editor doesn't care about mixed metaphors:

" . . . running against the cultural tide."

Does one run in the surf? Or do something else instead?

His editor is likewise heedless of (mixed, cliche) metaphors that undermine the gist of the article:

" . . . the cultural tide."

So, when the tide comes back in (or out), will editors come back in style?

I also question Kamiya's "really" in "some bloggers don't really need editors." Do they or don't they? Or is the mushy "really" implying that even fluent, conversational bloggers could *benefit* from an editor?

I will grant that "really" is idiomatic and conversational in context. But I would call nothing about these quotes elegant or beautifully shaped. They're workpersonlike at best.

Judging from the quotes selected, Kamiya makes a poor case for the benefits of editing.


I felt sheepish about slagging the guy without having read the piece first, so I clicked to it. And some of it is elegantly turned. But when he started riffing about the infantile godlikeness of writing, I stopped. Blah blah blah -- your years of editing must have really led you to hate writers, Mr. K. How yucky.

(I'm a blogger, former proofreader at an alt.-weekly, and extremely occasional former critic at same alt.-weekly. I have nothing against editors, if they're any good. A lot of them aren't. I was happy to have prose improved, and unhappy to have it mangled. Whatevs.)

I do realize that my above queries are 75% baloney.

Robert Nagle

a few months ago I gave a talk to a Book Editing class at a graduate publishing program. I made the point that a primary role of Editors these days is NOT revising/fixing manuscripts but begging for content (in order to publish them). See also Susan Bell's book, Artful Edit: On the practice of Editing yourself) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393057526/ref=wl_it_dp/105-2593697-0238804?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2PKK5HVOOY6LY&colid=3VLBR4INHLIJS )

Nowadays, it's probably more common for writers to pay someone to edit a manuscript than to await for the competent editor of the publisher. When that happens, the writer is more likely to feel in control.


RN, thanks for pointing out Susan Bell's book. As an online writer it's essential that I edit my own work, but in fact I'm convinced that it's always the writer's job to self-edit as brutally as possible. Do I succeed? Not yet, but I'm certainly determined to learn.

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