Whether it is nobler to let the editor take your work and make of it what he/she will; to let your creative soul die; to sleep peacefully knowing that you have a good editor whose job it is to make what you write better; and perchance dream of all the accolades that will come your way once the letter is published…
Aye, there’s the rub. Because you see, no bloody soul can predict if the editor’s got it right. He/She ought to have, of course, but have they? How can you be a trusting soul? What if people turn around and say, “What were you thinking?” Try telling me them what they are thinking is exactly what you thought in that fresh, sacrosanct first draft but only the editor didn’t think so, and you sound like such a fake. Almost society la di da and a mere pitiful imitation of a society la di da at that.
So that’s what happened to me last week where I wrote this succinct report and in came editor who reviewed it; and spruced it up all saucy and nice. Then superboss came in and changed things back to the way they were in my first draft.
What did I do?
I waited till he was done, rolled my eyes, did my I’m-so-happy-giggly-girl-meets-Kurt Cobain-routine and said in a tone of mingled pleasure and surprise, “Why, this is exactly like my first draft. Oh how nice, we think so alike.”
And smiled and beamed and ran away before blame could be placed anywhere.
I’m still wondering exactly who was complimented and who was insulted. A poor person’s dilemma, this. And there’s a classic pun in that sentence.
After all, any writer is necessarily poor, unless you are an NYT best. But if you are an NYT best, you don’t have to think about editors, because there are ghost writers who will pick all the right words and put the commas in all the right places, neither more nor less, and all you have to do is wait for the release and the champagne. (A drink, I shamefully and sadly, no make that pathetically, enough haven’t tasted still. It’s a deal like my not having visited Goa yet, I have too many ideals about these things.)
You know, I was talking about Nora Roberts whose writing I love in the previous blog?
Well, I visited her website. Very tacky. So full of it, I can’t tell you. And it’s in the third-goddamned-person. For what joy? But I still think she’s an interesting writer. Perhaps like me.
So I’ve decided I make a more decent writer than I do an editor. I simply don’t have the mind of an editor. I’m too kind, too sensitive, too keenly aware of another’s ear, and very perceptive about how they could have thought of things when they were writing to cut, slice, and wound much. I guess, I’m trying to imply that I am a good person.
Except when I was editing the college magazine and later on the journal that we got out. Hell, that was fun. By then, I knew and disliked all those self-proclaimed writers and linguistic lasses enough to say, “Darling, really, if you mean to say this, you better say it this way.” And went cut, cut, delete, delete, rephrase till only the bare minimum interesting bit remained.
No wonder my MA classmates hate me so much. LOL.
So yes, to write or to edit? Well, it’s no longer a question. It’s just that editing pays me, writing keeps me sane. And since I can’t do an Ophelia anytime soon, I must be crass about food and think of plagiarism.
Oh a Happy Year. My first blog entry in 2008.
Well, what you know, time – it just flies…(Isn’t that superbly original? LOL. I adore cliches.)