Editors are Often Angels

My latest novel, He Trots the Air, is presently being edited by an angel. Well, not like the ones with wings and sometimes swords. Nevertheless, thank heavens for her. As a teacher of literature, I’ve learned that people read novels many different ways. They bring to the story their own frames of reference and interpret the themes of novels in ways authors never imagined when they were sitting at their computers and sweating out the composing process. Dedicated writers obsess over every word, every sentence, every paragraph. I have written the same two paragraphs 17 times, and in the present editing process, cast a jaundiced eye at those paragraphs and some inner compulsion forced me to write an 18th version. And yet I know that e-mail from readers will tell me their reactions to the book and my eyes will widen with surprise. That’s why editors are so important. Angelic editors bring a scrupulously objective reading to their author’s work whether they like the book personally or not, their mission to improve the book, make it clearer and more enjoyable. When my editor said, “I don’t understand this,” or “How about more detail about XXX?” it was tremendously helpful. In one case, I took out a rather rather abstruse reference I thought everybody understood, and in the other, filled in some extra descriptive words about the appearance of a character I thought would be perfectly clear in the imaginations of my readers.

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