Thursday, November 16, 2006
More than words on a page. . .
An editor deals in words. Sentences. Paragraphs. Punctuation. These are the tools of our trade. But an editor must be more than a word custodian, cleaning up the verbiage clutter and trashing descriptive debris. If we are doing our jobs right, our responsibilities go far beyond spit shining and primping a story before it makes a publishing debut.
We are bridge-builders.
The thought makes me swallow hard. Breathe deep. Gulp.
The bridges we build are not only those that carry a work of fiction from manuscript to printed page. First, an editor must build a bridge of communication and cross over to an amiable working relationship with the author. At times, this can feel like I’m wobbling across a rope bridge over a death-deep chasm. How hard is too hard to push? Should I ask for revisions again or just let it slide this time? When do I cross the line from editor to unwelcome ghostwriter? I must say, though, I’ve been oh-so blessed and pleasantly surprised by the number of true friendships that have sprung from my editor/author connections in the past year. We are more like family than business associates, crying with each other when one is hurting; sharing high-fives and hallelujahs when one is on top of the world.
Then there’s that bridge we help build that connects author to reader. Words are vehicles, which convey a reader into the unseen world of an author’s energy and spirit, fears and insights, heart and soul. When the right “connection” is made, words transcend the physical dimension of ink on paper to carry the reader to another realm. An editor is charged with the task of filling in the author’s occasional pothole and smoothing over any bumps in the road that might detour the reader from her emotional adventure.
To tell you the truth, I don’t know that I trust my bridge-building abilities just yet. (Don’t tell my authors, but they might be wise to think twice before trusting their full weight on a bridge constructed by this rookie.)
Swallow hard. Breathe deep. Gulp.
Now, link arms with me. Together, let’s step out on faith—not faith in my humble abilities, but faith in the Master Bridge Builder and his rock-solid construction plans.
Editor Du Jour Susan