Editing & Editors

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I’m right in the middle of reading a book of letters written by a famous children’s book editor, Ursula Nordstrom. She was a smart, funny, caring woman who as able to push artists and writers in a way that made them produce their best work. A book she had a hand in you might be familiar with is Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

According to LinkedIn, I’m an editor, but I don’t do a lot of editing. Most of what I get hired to do is writing. Most of that writing is copywriting for food, which is not the same as  the kind of writing you’d brag about at a New York cocktail party.

I edit my own commercial work and very rarely have another professional writer involved. I get good feedback from clients and Creative Directors, but I don’t think it’s the same as having someone who obsesses over words involved. I think I would’ve benefited greatly from having someone like Nordstrom in my life earlier in my career. Having mentors is important for developing artists and I have not had that luxury in my writing life.

The closest I got were a couple of professors at Berkeley, but their attention is split between a hundred or more students. They just don’t have the time to develop someone. I’ve written letters and emails to people over the years, but most people aren’t very willing to help. I think that sucks, which is why I am always eager and responsive when someone reached out with questions about copywriting. I try to be as helpful as possible, and judging by the results, I’ve been somewhat successful helping others.

This blog receives almost no editing. Usually I’ll go in and correct major typos I spot, but that’s about it. I’m sure this raw feed is not particularly helpful to my writing career, which is the main reason I’m going to remove it from the internet when I’m done transferring everything over. For visual artists, sketches and unfinished work can be interesting, for writers, it just looks sloppy.

I’ve been transferring the posts from this year of blogging into a single word document and some of them are just cringe-inducing. But that’s ok. In the gym, fighters have bad days. It’s all part of making them better. To fight through a shit effort, learn, and come back harder is how everyone gets better.

This whole year of writing was essentially a training regimen designed to get the volume and quality of words I can produce up. There’s not much I’d save out of the hundreds of pages I typed, but I feel ready, finally, to work on something great. That’s what the next year is about: getting something I’m proud of finished.

Once my book is done, I think I’m going to look for a traditional publisher. I have a solid plan to edit, publish, and promote it on my own, but I’d much prefer to work with an established editor and see how all that works. I don’t expect much from a first book, but I do think the process is going to be really fun. When you’re a writer, everyone asks you if you wrote a book. I’ll be able to answer yes soon enough

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2 Comments

  1. I’ve been following your blog for quite a few months, from a link on Facebook from Josh Snow. Just wanted to pop in and leave a comment before you delete this, and let you know that I’ve enjoyed your musings and observations. Most of all I’ve appreciated (and often agreed with) your social commentary and advice, and I think you have a good voice to develop there. Keep writing!

    – Valerie Stoltey
    (in Santa Maria)

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