Saturday, April 3, 2010

Editors and Editors

I always feel like I am strugling to say something, something that I am not quite saying. No words seem exactly right. When you add editors into the equation, it becomes even worse. I have been through periods when I thought that editors were just frustrated writers who hated people who could actually write. Then there have been periods when I have been glad that they were watching out for my interests and making sure that the typos are gone. But most of the time, I have questioned why they exist and how I could avoid them.

I have one editor that I adore (Suite101's fair Julie), one editor that I hate (I'll never tell!), and many editors that I tolerate as long as they are helpful and not a hindrance to what I am trying to do. It seems as if many of them feel they are above writers, as if they are the watchdogs of writers or somehow babysitters that make sure we aren't inciting riots. Many times I end up having to train them because they seem to have no idea what they are doing. It's annoying and insulting to end up with an editor who thinks she is your boss when she is really just a low-paid proofreader. I actually do have a fairly prestigious editing job, so I know how it feels to see other people's mistakes and wonder why they don't see them. I still don't feel superior, though, so maybe I'm not properly embroiled in editor culture.

Sometimes I wonder how necessary it is to have so many editors out there. Then, I witnessed something that needed an editor so badly that non-writers were telling me how badly the item in question needed to be edited. It wasn't just me. Homegirl needed an editor in the worst possible way. Being a witness to this taught me two things: I don't suck as much as I thought, and an editor is really just a person who comes between what you want to say and what an audience wants to hear. That is actually a great thing to do- to carve an audience-specific work out of one that is just an expression of the authors creativity.

Editing is an important step that is noticed mostly in its absence. If something isn't edited well, it look naked and revealed. If it is, the writer's idea comes across without anything getting in its way. Judging from what I witnessed last week, more people should consider professional editing to avoid people wondering afterward what in the world went wrong.


puppychair123 said...

Hey, this might not be the right place, but I need your help. I read your article, "How To Get a Newspaper Article Published" and I went lurking to you for some advice. I was hoping you could tell me just WHERE I could find the editor, or who to call on the newspaper to submit my work. I have no clue where to look, where to start. Do I look on the back of the paper, or go to their website? Or what? Please help me oh famous one!

L. Shepherd said...

Ah yes, because I am so very famous. There is this one guy who knows who I am, though, so there's that.

The person to go to depends completely on what you want to get published. In most cases, if you want to get published in a newspaper as a freelancer, you'd go to the feature editor. You can usually find the feature editor's name on the second page of the paper or on the front of the "life" section or whatever they call that section in your paper. You can also find it on the paper's website if they have one.

Here's a site that might be helpful as well:

If what you have is a hard news article, you're going to have a harder time getting the item into the paper without being an employee, but smaller newspapers may allow it. I hope any of this helps. And adds to my fame.

L. Shepherd said...

The last part of that link needs to be shtml, but the Google page isn't wide enough for a relatively short link. When I get famouser I'm going to make them correct that.