From the writer’s perspective:
Creating the written word comes easier to some than to others, but generally speaking, writing is tough, arduous (but eminently rewarding) work. Sometimes a writer can spend hours, days, weeks, or an eternity coming up with the exact word, the exact phrase, the perfect sentiment to capture the moment, the feeling, or the subtlety they’re trying desperately to convey. And now along comes an editor, with no knowledge of the roller coaster the writer’s been on, and they hack and slash with their red pen, trying to destroy what the writer worked so long to create. Not only is it infuriating for the writer, it plants the seed of doubt -- after all that, was the passage really crap after all?
From the editor’s perspective:
An editor spends his or her entire life fixing errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The higher level editors spend their lives trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear -- that is to say, taking a batch of copy and doing whatever it takes to give it a logical flow and construction and make it shine. And then invariably the writer steps in and says, “No, we can’t change that. Keep it as it is.” So now, in the middle of a carefully edited and polished piece, is a clunky sentence that stands out like a cockroach on a wedding cake. And who’s going to take the blame when the readership starts stumbling over it? Not the writer, no. They’re infallible. The only question that will be asked is “Why didn’t the editor catch this?”
That’s why trust is so important between the writer and the editor. If they can work together, have a little give and take on what’s really important, what works, and what doesn’t, then everybody wins. Generally speaking, writers aren’t out to vilify editors and editors aren’t out to ruin a writer’s writing. Everyone just wants the best final piece possible. And once trust is established, that’s what everyone gets.
By Steve Boudreault