Finding my own philosophy as an editor


It's been way too long since my last post. I've been busy. Unfortunately, some of the things I've worked on, I'm not at liberty to talk about. Even more frustrating, my content here may dissipate as myself and regular collaborator Liz start our Medium page.

It's one of the first projects that we're working on as we try to figure out if we can work together on ongoing projects. Writing Air together was a pleasure. I guess this is us gambling that a segment of our income can come from our trust in working together. That said, I need to be able to write 4 to 5 small pieces weekly. So, some things that I may discuss here in longer posts, will end up there, broken into smaller posts.

Another thing that has been filling my time is editing. I was a judge for an emerging writers poetry competition hosted by Quattro Books. The competition started late last year and culminated in myself and Kate Marshall-Flaherty selecting 3 poets who are going to be featured in the first anthology in an ongoing series. Kate was the primary editor for 2 poets and I took the lead with the third.

Currently, I am editing an anthology of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction for Guernica Editions. For efficiency, wanting to insure that the anthology had a national presence, and quality control instead of an open call for authors, I've invited authors to submit. The positive, is that I have writers from Quebec, BC, Alberta and Ontario in the anthology. The negative, is that I've been chasing people down for their work for the past month.

In a couple weeks, I start work editing a friend's manuscript. He plans to self-publish his first book and asked for professional help. It may be the most difficult project that I've taken on in my short career as an editor. His manuscript is a work of avant-garde, experimental, spec-fiction poetry that spans at least 300 pages.

The past 8 or so months, I've read poetry and fiction submissions from approximately 600-800 potential writers/authors as part of my journey towards becoming an editor. I've seen how good editors work and what creates mediocrity. To be clear, what I deem good editing, and what others call good editing differs.

Through my experiences on both sides, I'm beginning to create my own philosophy on the role of the editor in the process of writing creative literature. I believe that an editor should see their role as a shield rather than a sword. Editorial suggestions are suggestions; they should be the beginnings of a conversation between author and editor-- not an order. An astute reader shouldn't be able to see the editor's fingerprints on the book they helped shape.

Most importantly, the editor's role is to make sure that the author creates a manuscript that satisfies the publisher, while also enjoying as much of the process as possible. Obviously, creating a commercially viable book is important. But so is the author's psyche. What's the point getting published, or self-publishing (for that matter) a good book if your memories of creating that book are negative? The most frustrating thing I've witnessed, is seeing talented writers being emotionally crushed by editors with poor people skills. These are brilliant people. They can do easier things than writing. We need to encourage them, and help guide them, not crush their spirits.

At some point I'll expand on this, but let's leave things here for now.

When the Medium page launches, I'll make sure to put up a post here.

Peace and Respect

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