Monday, October 09, 2006

I've become an editor.

Not really. Please don't start sending your unpublished manuscripts my way because you think I'm acquiring for HarperCollins or some such nonsense.

What I mean to say is, I feel like an editor.

I have not edited anyone's manuscript, but there have been so many (more than usual lately) that are incredibly close to perfect, but they are missing that tight editing to make it truly a joy to read. I try to give it the benefit of the doubt as long as possible, but eventually I just can't take it any longer and close the book (a.k.a. delete the file).

But perhaps I have become most like an editor in this way: I am always looking for a reason to dislike a book. I have such a backlog of reading that it is easier to pass on them than to struggle through and look for the gleam of possibility. Granted, I usually don't have to try hard; the crappy ones stick out like a cold sore on a sunny day. Of course, that means the books I ultimately select are the absolute best, and the ones where I am thirty pages in and still engrossed usually go all the way and end up getting reviewed (though there is a recent exception from three weeks ago where the novel really went down the drain in the final 25 pages--a classic case of I-don't-know-how-to-end-this syndrome).

So, while I hope to impart my wisdom on the legions of writers and readers everywhere, perhaps I have been taught a bit of a lesson as well: no matter how much you think there might be a short cut to good writing (either on the production end or the consumption end) there isn't one, just like there is no short cut to success in writing. This is a long journey for everyone, including me. All we can ask in the end is that we have something to show for it.