For me, the whole thing is editing. Yes, I love discovering a mushroom under a rock, yes I love hearing the words, “we would like to make an offer,” yes, going to lunch with handsome young editors who might still change the world is lovely, but it’s the pencil in my hand, turning my mechanical pencil a smidge and writing a note in the margin, or untangling a sentence, or offering a more precise word that I find endlessly satisfying. I love thinking about pacing, tone, and timing. I love taking the back off a watch.
Once when I was a young editor and struggling mightily with a manuscript, my boss stopped in, it was after 7pm. What are you still doing here? I looked up, eraser shavings blanketing my chest, post its stuck to every available surface, pages taped to the door and wall. Editing, I said. He shook his head, “can it possibly be worth it, will it sell a single extra copy?” I’ve asked myself that question a thousand times since. Does this word for that, this structure over that one, sell a single copy more and does a reader appreciate it? Are we just kidding ourselves. Are we just Nippers and Turkey?
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