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I Love the Hood I Love My Life

Over the last few weeks I’ve had lunch dates with a really great group of editors from all walks of the publishing spectrum. Young and hungry, eager to prove themselves. Fat and sassy with an impressive roster of writers including bestsellers. Grand and commanding with bittersweet memories of better days. The literary ingenue, well connected, moving as easily through social networking as a Paris Review party.

It’s a strangely intimate quasi-blind date when you meet a new editor or reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in years. You hope for points of common interest, you hope for dish, insight into the house they work for. You discern as much as you can about how the person does their job, cares for their authors, how much juice they have. You wonder what they make of you, what they think as they walk away back to their office.

Usually I pick up a Coke Zero on the way back to my office to get me through the rest of the day. Have you tried the Zero? It’s like carbonated cough syrup and reminds me of my junky days.

What is your editor like, or what is your fantasy editor like?

37 Responses

  1. The editor I’m working on with my next book will be the only one I’ve ever met in person. She seems pretty cool. We both hate the same kind of books.

    But any time I have coffee or lunch with anyone even remotely literary (agents, editors, other writers), I feel like I’m on a date, all nervous and trying to make a good impression. Is that a factor of where I am, and where I’m trying to get with my career, or are literary folk just like that?

    I used to drink at least one or two Diet Cokes everyday for about thirty years. So Coke Zero reminds me of that too.

  2. you know coke zero was branded to market diet coke to men. apparently zero is more masculine than diet. is it?

    my fantasy editor likes me, but likes my work more.

    (zero. diet. zero. diet…i can’t get the two words out of my head now.)

    • Dream editor. That would be any editor at this point. Or when I’m ready to have one. No, I have it: somebody who returns my calls within 72 hours. I have severe separation anxiety and abandonment issues, don’tcha know.

      I haven’t consumed diet beverages since I was ten years old. My poison back then was Tab. I think it had more sodium per serving than a large McDonalds french fries.

  3. My imagined editor uses the word ‘exquisite’ frequently.

  4. My dream is to find an agent. My dream editor – down the road – is one who will provide direction and allow me a certain amount of creative control. I hardly think that’s realistic at the moment, since the only two books I’ve published so far ended up with someone else’s unfortunate words along with my stellar images.

    I have three works in progress. My characters are historic figures who have haunted my dreams for a decade. Is it realistic to envision a book of photographs and illustrations along with related vignettes? Or must a book be 95% text to be marketable these days?

    I prefer to take my caffeine in the form of coffee. But I have a fizzy personality.

  5. my fantasy editor is someone who doesn’t mind the words “fuck” and “shit” and who brings out the best in me.

  6. I’m gonna substitute the word “future” for “fantasy” in the hope that my goal of getting a work published is more than just a notion:

    A person who does not lie; who balances constructive criticism with encouragement; someone content with themselves, inquisitive to the possibilities and potentials of my work and willing to explore how we (writer-agent-editor) can all benefit from it. In return, I’m (what my corporate clients call) a team player and always willing to try. Any takers?

  7. My editor is warm and enthusiastic and endlessly encouraging. Every time I talk to her she makes me feel like I’m the only person she’s working with. So far it’s a digital relationship but I can’t wait to meet her. I’m so lucky.

    Full on Coke is the only way I roll. I can’t drink something called zero.

  8. I with the full-on Coke. As for the editor, s/he would believe in my work and go to the wall for my story. As for traits…honest, encouraging, fearless, energetic. Basically a superhero.

    • Arrrrrgh. Full on Coke. Cold, caffeinated, carbonated, and the fast track to acid reflux. Worse yet, beer hits on two out of three.

      Dammit.

  9. My ideal editor would be someone who can tell me to make major changes to my stories — or even tell me that the story I’ve written isn’t the one I think I’ve written — without making me feel like a talentless wannabe hack.

    I don’t like diet Coke or Coke Zero because it tastes like cough syrup. I prefer the full-on esophagus-stripper that is diet Pepsi.

  10. Obviously, someone who appreciates what little talent I might have and who knows how to make my book better, not just different.

    But more important, is an editor who knows how to package a book: Finds the right title, gets sales behind it, writes good cover copy, and fights for a great cover.

  11. If I’m going to fantasise about an editor, editing isn’t what she’ll be doing in the fantasy.
    Any editor I work with will have to understand that Australian is not American OR English. It’s Australian, a rich language all its own. That’s somewhere to start.
    And haven’t any of you people ever heard of water ?
    It’s the same as all that shit you’re drinking, but without all the stuff that makes people fat and sick.

    • re water- to quote W.C. Fields: “Water? never touch the stuff. Fish make love in it, you know…”

    • Australian…don’t you speak German and drink alot of beer?

      No offense intended, harry… that was a joke, and too hard to resist. You raise an intriguing point about language differences, too. I must point out, though, that in this hemisphere, we drink at one end, and shit comes out the other. But you’re right, too, in that we often make ourselves fat and sick.

      As for water, it’s for my boat.

      • Well, actually, whenever I do drink beer and try to speak it does sound a bit like German.
        As for the hemispheres, I’ve met many people from both who have shit come out the same end that food and drink goes in.
        Water may be ok, but wouldn’t your boat run better on fuel ?

  12. I haven’t gotten to that part of my fantasy yet. I haven’t graduated to Coke Zero either. I’m still on water. Check back with me when I am in my next life as a navigator on a Federation starship and my books are being read all over the universe. Cheers.

  13. Which editor?
    The one I am working with now, loves my (nonfiction) stuff, I make her laugh. I like that.

    For fiction…still shopping for an agent to assist in finding that editor.

    Fresh face, okay, but not too hungry, the one that’s been around, not too fat, the experienced, not too aloof. I want my editor to remember the old days but get that it’s all changed and sees how I fit into the mix. Don’t need an editor on a high horse, but a white horse would be nice.

  14. My editor once sent me a photo of a lobster he was going to cook for lunch. In three different poses.

    Is this normal?

    • Catherine, in my experience, a lobster that poses for pictures is not normal at all. But I would not be surprised if my editor did something like that. After all, he sent me a pack of flavorless Nihilist Mints once.

    • My editor does not boil living creatures for kicks. If she did, i would fire her ass in a heartbeat.

    • Normal, shmormal. Any editor with that kind of sense of humor is an editor worth keeping.

  15. “What is your editor like, or what is your fantasy editor like?”

    A good editor sees what you can’t see, points it out, leaves it up to you to figure out how to fix it, and helps you fix it if you can’t figure it out. I’ve had several editors like that. They have only helped my work, never hurt it.

    As for Coke Zero… well, no, I’ve never had the pleasure. I’ve been physically near to that substance, but I’m sorry, I just don’t see why anyone would want to pay extra for something the point of which seems to be its nothingness. Give me water, give me tea, give me juice or beer or a dry red table wine or a bottle of Bushmills, but don’t give me a dark brown fizzy nothingness. It would be like having an illiterate editor.

  16. My dream editor is hungry.

    When I was little, my stepdad drove a Coca Cola truck. We weren’t allowed to call it Coke. After that he drove a Frito-Lay truck and we had all the expired Nacho Cheese Doritos and Ruffles we could eat.

    I see a theme here.

  17. My best fantasies stay hidden. Coming face to face always ruins it.

    As for the soda, I get the attraction, especially if nursing a hang-over. The thing is, I truly believe they’re evil. They really just rot your brain.

  18. My editors, JC and CW, put out six issues a year, run a business, and get out on the water now and then. We’ve spent ime together, on and off the water, and I talk with JC every week or so. He’s at Lake Havasu nowsailing, smoozing, and selling, probably in that order. CW stays in the background.

    These guys are in my corner, and are always helpful. For my part, when they want to make changes or cut, I don’t balk. That’s their job, they do it well, and I trust them.

    My fantasy editor works on collections of short stories, as well as longer fiction, stories which go where the magazine doesn’t. They know things I don’t, and coach without brutality or deception, and with wit and grace.

  19. I’ve never had an editor, but at a workshop I attended last fall,my query, synopsis and the first ten pages of my memoir were critiqued by Peter Joseph of St. Martin’s Press. He was direct and honest, offered up good advice and, if all editors are like him, I think the publishing world would be a pretty fun place. I’m dreaming, eh? An author he had worked with was also present and the two seemed to get along well. Oh, one other thing I liked about Peter was he held his critiquing sessions on the porch of a beautiful old log lodge overlooking the mountains on a perfect autumn day.

  20. What Tetman said.
    Even in my fantasies I’m willing to work hard.
    And if I want a fizzy drink, I’ll have regular Coke. But I usually don’t.

  21. My extremely good-looking editor (I wanted to touch his impossibly smooth cheek during lunch) left for another house midway through and I was shuttled to his also overly attractive colleague, female and hot off a major bestseller. Benefited from two sets of comments, but at a price. The first apologized for the wobbly markings on the manuscript, as most of the editing was done while he rode the bus to work. The second seemed to love it, rushed it through, had me write the flap and marketing copy (dangers of being in the biz).

    When the box of hardcovers arrived on my doorstep, I was alone and wearing sweats after a workout. I picked up a couple, turned them around, said “huh,” and then wondered what was for lunch.

  22. Someone who will call me on all my shit.

  23. My dream editor would work just like my dentist: frown at my sloppy work, tilt me back, and make it all better.

  24. Smiling at the notion of “my fantasy editor.” My imagination has not yet carried me there. I’ve read enough of this blog to know that whatever it is that I think I want might not be what i want at all.

    No, I haven’t tried Coke Zero. I’m more of an A&W Root Beer girl myself. But that reminds me: I can’t get my coffee-maker to work. Do you have any idea how to fix that?

  25. My fantasy editor is spineless and whiny. Small framed, boney and ugly. I crush him with my vision and glorious word wizardry. He learns to respect me and fears me even more. Every night he wakes to night terrors, screaming at the sight of my beautiful face. Like a cat I hiss in his direction.

    Coke Zero’s fucking awesome, cheers! 🙂

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