Here I am, leafing through the manuscript as I write the second draft.
Somewhat to my own surprise, I’ve discovered that there is something beautifully visceral about seeing the actual, manual ink comments of my editor on paper, as opposed to the “track-changes” mark-up in a computer file. You can see when he started to comment, then changed his mind and crossed it out; when he doodled or drew arrows and vectors as thought exercises to link ideas; when he pressed hard or light, and many other non-linear, sensual clues to how he was experiencing my manuscript.
For my part, I am having a blast.
Editors are hugely important for me as a writer, both in my day job at The Economist (even though this degree of editorial intervention was unique) and in my new role as author.
- A bad editor either does not get it or thrusts himself into a text, in the process “de-sophisticating” it.
- A good editor gets the author and his idea and wants to amplify it.
I have been very, very lucky: I have found a great editor. Not only does he get it, he has made comments that I myself had already thought, and thus was needing to hear. That may sound strange, but it happens a lot to writers: We get caught up in our own words, have a sense of what needs to be changed but feel obstructed until somebody gives us the liberating nudge.
On an aside: It helps to be doing this in my new setting, after my recent move, while gazing at this scene below. It looks Greek but is Californian. Uncluttered. Nice blues.