Why I Edit
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”—Michelangelo
Even though it’s meant for sculpting, this is how I see editing. The writer produces a beautiful block of marble with a rough figure emerging from it, and it is the editor’s job to help the writer refine that figure, marking where more stone needs to be carved away and helping them see the lines more clearly. And then, once the writer has fully freed the figure from the marble, it is the editor’s job to polish it to a fine shine, and set it out for display.
Writers are visionaries and storytellers. Wizards with words. They pull forth whole worlds from their imaginations. As an editor, I need to be able to share in the vision of different authors, to see each dream as clearly as they do, and to be able to draw it into even sharper focus. I shouldn’t be carving the statue myself, or making every statue adhere to my standards of beauty. I shouldn’t be making them carve in the manner of my school of carving. I need to be flexible, adaptable, and clear-sighted enough to be able to fully immerse myself in different styles, with different authors, and help each of them realize their wholly unique visions.
It’s an incredibly rewarding process. Being chosen to share a vision with an author, when it’s still so young and raw, is an honor. But it’s so much more and so much less than it’s made out to be. It’s not about being a capricious judge any more than it’s about fiddling with commas. It’s about having a five-year-old’s honesty and a muse’s love of art.