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10 (11) Ways To Tell Your Editor Hates You

03 August 201017 comments Publishing, Writing Blather

photo by atsoram on sxc.huEveryone knows editors are the natural born enemies of writers. We're...uh. They're mean, narrow-minded, ruthless people without an ounce of human compassion in their black, shriveled, gin-scented hearts. Bitter and entirely destroyed by the rigors of life, they hate everyone - but especially hate writers. And books. With a passion. And it's likely that your editor hates you. In fact, it's pretty obvious. Not sure if your editor hates you or not? Look for these 10 11 signs:

1. He points out your errors. It's impossible to be perfect with some asshole constantly griping at you about comma abuse, homonym misuse, and proper apostrophe placement. You never do anything wrong. The dude needs to just back off.

2. He explains things to you about grammar, proper usage, plotting, characterization, etc. What does he think you are, five? Of course you know these things. You know everything. He just doesn't get that you're exercising your stylistic freedoms. And why is he giving you lessons in history, physics, Cantonese slang, Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, and the limits to which the human body can strain in that particular position of the Kama Sutra? You're creative. You don't have to be factually accurate.

3. He suggests improvements to your story and style. If you'd wanted to write it the way he suggested, you'd have done it that way in the first place. Even if you'd never thought of it before. Jesus. What an ass. He's probably a failed writer with nothing better to do than try to undermine your talent. If he's so smart, he can go write a book. You don't need to improve anything. Ever.

4. He makes you do all the work of implementing his recommended changes. Cripes. You wrote the book once already. Why should you have to retain ownership of your characters and storyline to write it again? All that BS he spouts about trusting you and your talent, and about not taking over your story...pfft. He's just blowing smoke up your ass because he's too lazy to do it himself. He should just whip everything together and take care of it; it's not your problem anymore. Editors are really just glorified proofreaders anyway. Everyone knows that.

photo by MCordell on sxc.hu5. He actually thinks your writing should mature with each iteration of edits and each new story. Why should you have to change what's already perfect? So what if you just had to rewrite ten pages of action because he decided the existing scene created a plot hole the size of a mutant manatee? You'll just dash it off and send it in as-is, flaws intact. Nevermind the fact that he's spent the entire manuscript griping like your mother-in-law about semicolons can't be used that way or make sure the modifying clauses agree with the main subject, verb, and object. Whine, whine, whine. If your writing style changed from edit to edit and book to book, he wouldn't have anything to do. You're just being considerate and keeping him from getting bored. After all, he wouldn't have a job without you.

6. He'd rather go without sleep than miss another chance to go through your manuscript. I mean, obviously he's just trying to create problems and he's got a grudge against you. Does it really matter if every instance of the word Green in the Manuscript is CapitaLiZed? Get a life, man. Maybe if he slept more than three hours a day he wouldn't be so nitpicky.

7. When you halfass your edits, he makes you do them again. Clearly he doesn't understand that you skipped 75% of his editorial commentary because it was all asinine and destructive, demonstrating that he doesn't get what you're doing. Also, see previous comment re: getting a life. Doesn't he think you have anything better to do?

8. He makes you kill your darlings. You spent months crafting that perfectly placed piece of purple prose, with its precisely poetic palliteration. You love that particular figure of speech and damn it, even if it's not appropriate, you'll make it appropriate. Your favorite 20-page scene detailing the movie the lovers watched in chapter 40 just touches your heart and reminds you of when you first watched it at a slumber party 72 years ago. You adore the way you always write "ocular orb-thinguses" instead of "eyes;" it's your signature. You love your art. You are your art. And he's trying to destroy you by making you cut out the things you love most. Nevermind that the narrative makes more sense without them. He's ruining the beauty of the thing.

9. He challenges you. He pushes you beyond your comfort zones and asks you to write things you've never written before, try things you've never thought of, learn new ways to do an old art. What is he trying to do, give you nightmares? New experiences are traumatizing. If you take risks, you might fail. Wait. That's it, isn't it? He wants you to fail.

10. He gives you deadlines. You have other priorities. Your hair appointment is this afternoon, your dog needs a mani-pedi, you're working on a brilliant new story that will blow the NYT list out of the water. Look, those deadlines can wait. It's not that hard to put a book together. You can just turn it in the day before the release date and it'll be fine. It's not like there are any other books in the pipeline, anyway. Yours is the only one that matters. If your editor really cared, he'd prioritize you above everyone else.

11. He makes you self-promote. And he's out there promoting you, too. I mean, really. There are marketing and PR people for that. You shouldn't have to self-promote; you are the author, the diva, the prima donna who watches from an ivory tower as the fans come flocking. You shouldn't have to do anything to draw them. And heaven forbid anyone expect you to speak with them or engage them in any way. They aren't authors like you.

If your editor meets even half these criteria, it's obvious that he or she hates you and wants your book to fail. Or at the very least, they're trying to make you as insane as they are. You should take up drinking. Make sure you drink while you write and while you edit; it's a bonding experience, and you'll be keeping your editor company. It won't affect the quality of your work at all.

Besides, even if it does, your editor will fix it. That's what he's there for, after all.

I just know someone out there will take this seriously. And then I'm going to cry. You wouldn't want to make a poor, defenseless, exhausted editor cry, would you?

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  1. Liz Borino August 3, 2010

    You wouldn't hate an author enough to do ANY of these things...would you?

  2. Kujo Hikaru August 3, 2010

    I. Love. You.

  3. Kujo Hikaru August 3, 2010

    I do need to write a post now on how to tell your editor fiance is entirely insane. You know...more satire. *nervous laugh*

  4. Adrien-Luc Sanders August 3, 2010

    Liz: Me? Never. I'm not that cruel. Really, I'm not.

    Hikaru: And then you can write a post about how much fun it is to sleep on the couch. Alone. With the AC turned down to 45. ~bright smile~

  5. Janelle August 3, 2010

    I so hope I find a really good editor to hate me this much!!!!!

  6. Jason Beymer August 3, 2010

    I knew it! So, so evil.

  7. A3writer August 3, 2010

    Would I want to make an editor cry? Well, yes, I would, but that simply because I'm cruel and heartless and want to make just about everyone cry. Is that wrong? My therapist keeps telling me to curb my megalomania and narcissism, but I think he's full of it.

  8. Adrien-Luc Sanders August 3, 2010

    Janelle: You deserve all the hate an editor can possibly give.

    Jason: ~narrows his eyes~ Ooh, you. There are no words for how much I hate you.

    A3: If it's wrong, I don't want to b - okay, can't bring myself to finish that sentence. If you've got a hankering to make an editor cry, c'mon. My contact lenses are dried out and I'm out of eyedrops, so you'll do. But I'm not paying your therapy bills.

  9. Renee August 3, 2010

    I'm crying now. Too funny. I am anxiously awaiting the day when I can make an editor cry. Just a little...I'm not heartless and I'll happily join in the drinking. Why not? I missed my hair appointment so I'm not going anywhere.

  10. Allison August 3, 2010

    *MY* editor sends me chocolate. So there.

    Of course, I sent her a stuffed unicorn and a box of bacon band-aids, so I'm not sure who got the best of the awesome there.

  11. Adrien-Luc Sanders August 3, 2010

    Renee: And so the vicious cycle continues. You drink. I drink. You drink more. I just drown myself in vodka when I see the 800-page martini-fueled treatise detailing your intimate love affair with Stalin's arm hair. All is right in the world.

    Allison: Your editor is too nice to you. I can't terrorize writers with hatred and fear if I give them chocolate. (Though for the good ones, I share my Kona. In very tiny cups. Can't let them get spoiled or get the crazy idea that I have their best interests in mind.)

  12. Pia Veleno August 3, 2010

    I want to capture you and keep you all to myself. I need an editor with a sense of humor. Oh, wait, did you say this was to be taken seriously? Shoot...

  13. Marthina August 4, 2010

    Oh! I love this. Just finished a BA Hons in Publishing and is now working on a website for publishing and marketing (for the Swedish market...and yes it's in swedish). This post was spot on...really good! :) If you don't mind I will post this on our Facebook fanpage! (!/socialaforlag?ref=ts)

  14. Renee August 4, 2010

    Gasp! Who told you about the arm hair?

  15. Adrien-Luc Sanders August 4, 2010

    Pia: Just a warning - I'm not housebroken, I require large quantities of gin, and I don't come with an owner's manual.

    Marthina: Ahhh, that explains the sudden new Twitter followers in Sweden! I was starting to wonder. And of course I don't mind; thanks for sharing!

    Renee: You did, after the fifth bottle of Captain Morgan. I think. I don't know. That was a pink elephant night. I'm pretty sure I saw Jesus. Or it could've been that homeless guy that camps out on Canal.

  16. Renee August 4, 2010

    The fifth bottle? Shoot, I'm usually talking to Jesus by the third shot. Perhaps you drank more than I.

    PS: It must have been Jesus because Tweed has no homeless people.

    What's that? Not in Tweed...that explains a lot. I'm supposed to be working...

  17. Pia Veleno August 5, 2010

    I don't read owner's manuals and the boy keeps buying gin when I'd rather have tequila. As for that other problem, I have a squirt gun and a rolled newspaper... it worked with the dog.

    Bad Editor. Bad! (shakes penny can)


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