Wednesday, August 21, 2013

“But I Dig Friction”

PW was very generous to ask me for my opinions, and that was a lot of fun. I do, however, want to add one thing to the record (and this is certainly not an oversight on Claire’s part): I think having strong opinions about why and how you do the books you do is very important to good editorial practice. It’s the main thing that separates a mostly objective practice like proofreading or copyediting from the vastly more subjective and variable practice of acquisitions and developmental editing. An editor should believe strongly in something.

But the purpose of those opinions is to serve as starting points for a conversation with the author. Philosophies are guidelines not laws. It’s true that I’m not interested in the present YA orthodoxy (YA is books for teenagers), but by the same token, I’m not interested in seeing my philosophy become the new orthodoxy. Let’s celebrate heterodoxy and apostasy. I want testing, dispute, and contradiction. In my work, I’m most interested in the friction between ideas and how that friction can bring new heat to a manuscript.

My opinions are not my authors’. When I edit, I hope to advance my opinions and to be pushed back, forward, up, down, or sideways by the author—and arrive somewhere interesting as a result.