Friday, January 10, 2014

Editors Can be Monsters

There’s no doubt about it. Writing is hard. Actually, it often isn’t the writing that’s hard but the crap writers have to take from editors that can set them back. Do you feel as if your writing career is in everyone’s hands but yours? Have you had less than stellar experiences with some of your editors?

For the most part, editors are nice people. They want you to succeed, but occasionally you find one or two that are so horrible that it may make you want to quit writing altogether. Let’s take a look at a few instances.

Take the frustrated writer/editor. This is an editor that tried to make it as a freelance writer but didn’t make it. She ends up having to get a full-time job to support a family and resents having to sit behind a desk and edit other people’s work. In the process of editing, this editor goes overboard and edits the work so badly—in fact, rewriting it—that the piece isn’t recognizable. And not only that, forgets to save drafts along the way, so that the piece loses its continuity. She then goes back to the writer asking all sorts of questions, making the writer fix her editing mistakes.

Or take the alcoholic editor. A travel editor of a large East-coast city newspaper, calls a writer to ask a question. The writer is working at a travel agency to make ends meet. The editor goes ballistic and says he’s throwing the writers work in the trash can and doesn’t give the writer a chance to explain. What the writer finds out later is that this editor has a drinking problem, making him irrational at times.

Or take the new editor. A writer works for a large-city business publication as a regular stringer for seven years. He’s got a great rapport with the managing editor—the editor even helps him out with leads for assigned articles. Then the managing editor takes a job at the city’s largest newspaper. A new editor comes to the business publication. After a while of putting off the writer with one excuse after another, he finally tells the writer he can’t write. And this is after working for this same publication for seven years.

Or how about the condescending editor. You’ve probably run into editors like this. They think they’re the greatest and that writers are nothing more than slaves to do their bidding. They don’t see writers as being on the same professional level as themselves. In fact, they most likely have a journalism degree and feel they’re several steps up the ladder from the writer. And while they continue to send work the writer’s way, there’s never a strong bond between themselves and the writer.

As you can see from the above examples, dealing with situations like this can be unpleasant and may even have a long-term affect on your work. Some writers quit writing altogether while others quit temporarily or become blocked.

Always remember this: Editors are just another step in the chain of publication. They’re no better than you. In fact, you may write better then they do. And some resent that. And to be fair, there are a lot of great editors out there. So if you run into a less than professional situation with an editor, move on, and keep writing.

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