where the writers are
My latest epiphany

I miss editing. Working through the copyeditor’s notes on MORBID CURIOSITY CURES THE BLUES has reminded me of that. I love the pure beauty of language, the perfect shade of meaning inherent in a word, and coming to understand and appreciate an individual author through her word choices and stylistic tics.

I haven’t done any editing since I folded the magazine in 2006. Oh, my writers group meets once a month, but I try to confine my comments there to bigger issues of storytelling, scene-setting, and character building. I understand that most of the stuff the group sees is work in progress. It neither needs nor deserves a fine-tooth comb.

A while back, I read a friend’s girlfriend's memoir in progress. I read it really carefully because hers is a life that fascinates me. I made her carefully thought-out notes. She was so grateful for my comments that she asked if I’d edit the rest of the book when she’d finished it. I didn’t consider what I’d done editing, since again, this was a work in progress. Also, I take the editing seriously enough that I wasn’t going to do the work without being paid for it. Shortly afterward she ended the relationship with my friend, who had asked not to be included in the book. You know how breakups go. I stayed with my friend and lost track of the book.

But now, working on the Morbid Curiosity essays again: I remembered how I love the feel of other people’s words under my eyes and my pen. In this case, I was protecting the authors from the overzealous attentions of the copyeditor. It’s felt good to argue her changes and be able to back them up with my knowledge of the authors and their stories.

I would love to edit a new book for someone, especially if I could keep many of these same writers to work with again. Unfortunately, Scribner didn’t take the option of having first right of refusal on my next book. Whatever I end up doing next, it’s going to have to go to auction, just like this book did. My agent thinks that’s all in our benefit, but it’s scary. I’d just as soon stay with the editor I like and a publishing house that seems to be working hard to create and sell my book.