What’s the best thing I can wish for you as a writer? Not success, money, nor praise, but the chance to work with a good editor.
While I’m often on the editing end of the writer/editor equation, when I write pieces for publication and I have an editor who reviews them, that’s when I shine.
A good editor has your back. She/he makes you sound a gazillion times smarter and tighter, more reasoned and far brighter than the real you.
A good editor eliminates excess, redirects you to the through narrative, and gives your prose a thorough once-over.
A good editor is a lint brush — we could all do with a quick touchup.
The moment you stop defending yourself and getting all nervous and explain-y about your work — the moment you just take those edits in stride is the moment you become a stronger writer.
The writer/editor relationship isn’t adversarial — it’s a partnership, and the sooner you realize that, the better the relationship will be.
And a few words of thanks are always appreciated.
Recently I submitted an article and my editor had a question about why I’d left something out that she felt was necessary. When I shared my reasoning but said the decision was up to her, she agreed with my point and left it as is.
Here’s what I wrote back.
Me: You are great! Can we make you the template on which all other editors are created? Thanks.
Editor: I could honestly pray for the same thing for you as a writer. Truly.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction writer Tracy Kidder has often said that if his editor dies before him, you’ll never see another Tracy Kidder book in print. He says he’s nothing without his editor, who is the only person to ever see his first draft.
This is trust. This is relationship.
Do the work, but find someone who can boost you up to reach that next level in your writing. You’re never too good for a good editor.