Monday, January 7, 2019

Have pen, will edit

The problem with editors is any hack can call himself an editor and blunder along destroying manuscripts on a colossal scale with scarce intervention. Heck, I'm also an editor, as if that should prove my point. A few days ago I got back a manuscript I'd submitted for an anthology.  It looked like someone had been murdered and bled all over my manuscript--excepting it was all on a computer screen. Nonetheless, the editor changes were all there in red and it reminded me of when these things were actually done on paper.  And, in addition to endless nitpicking changes, he demanded an entirely different ending that made no sense to me.  I was left with the impression the editor was trying to re-write the story the way he would have told it. 

Now, this editor is about half as good as he thinks is, in my opinion.  But he convinced a publisher that they should give him an editor contract and that's that. I mentioned nitpicking.  How's this? He insisted on changing poop to shit in quoted dialogue. They're synonyms.  Frankly, in mixed company in the 1880s [that means ladies present] I don't think a man would use the word "Shit."  And so it went on with one pointless change after another, with my characters now saying stuff that I felt was bizarre.  These were my franchise characters--Miles O'Malley and Mabel.  I know what they'd say in my sleep.  But now Mabel's talking differently and so on.

So, here's what I don't understand.  Why the editor wasted his time changing everything.  I cannot fathom why he did not simply reject the story and save himself the trouble. He should have known I would immediately withdraw the story and would never make the requested changes.  And that is exactly what I did.

I don't mean to imply all editors are twits, just that sometimes you end up with one.  Case in point, my new novella that's coming out soon, Fallen Angel.  It also has Miles and Mabel in it. It's also set in the 1880s. Here, the editor pointed out a few flaws that had not occurred to me. I readily agreed to the minimal changes proposed and was quite happy with the editing that left me with a stronger story. 

In summation: I'm surprised more writers don't commit suicide, although many of us do. I'm also surprised more editors aren't gunned down in a stairwell as they come home from the reptile farm where they were visiting relatives.  Writing is a tough business.

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