Writers vs. Editors

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“Writers are sensitive souls–generally intelligent and hardworking but easily bruised. Treat them right, though, and you will be rewarded. Writers shape words into luminous sentences and the sentences into exquisitely crafted paragraphs. They weave the paragraphs together into a near perfect article, essay or review. Then their writing–their baby–is ripped untimely from their computers (well, maybe only a couple of weeks overdue) and turned over to editors. These are idiots, most of them, and brutes, with tin ears, the aesthetic sensitivity of insects, deeply held erroneous beliefs about your topic and a maddening conviction that any article, no matter how eloquent or profound or already cut to the bone, can be improved by losing an additional 100 words.”

“Writers, they say, are whiny, self-indulgent creatures who spend too much time alone. They are egotistical, paranoid and almost always seriously dehydrated. Above all, they are spectacular ingrates. Editors save their asses, and writers do nothing but bitch about it. ‘If anyone saw the original manuscript from …’ (and you can insert the name of your favorite Pulitzer Prize-winning writer here) ‘… that guy wouldn’t get hired to clean the toilets at the Stockholm Public Library. Say, the Pulitzer is the one they give away in Scandinavia, isn’t it? I better remember to change that in a piece we’re running. The stupid writer says it’s the Nobel. What would they do without us?'”

“On the Internet, they don’t have editors. Or they don’t have many. Writers rule, and a thought can go straight from your head onto the Net. That used to sound hellish. Now it sounds like heaven.”

Michael Kinsley at Time Magazine (here).

There Are 5 Comments On This Article.

  1. It is well word!
    Recently, everyone wish ” to play a post industrial epoch the first violin ” ;)
    Why it becomes simple to not help each other better and growth it is professional? This question does not give me of rest..
    During the moments of cooperation with editors of magazines I try to listen always to their opinion and not persuasivly to speak about the position..
    It is necessary to be opened for other people, and it is possible only through the joint compromise!
    Sorry my bad english.

  2. “On the Internet, they don’t have editors…”

    Really? Seems to me that the readers ability to call BS when they see it, take the writer to task, fact check from dozens, if not hundreds of source points, and rip the writer across hundreds of channels means that there are actually editors on the web. They may not be on the payroll, but they are also a lot more demanding.

    Of course, writers and editors can choose to ignore the readers… that is a course of action that lots of papers and magazines are taking. Is it working?

    Anybody wanna buy some New York Times stock?

  3. I have heard so many stories about editors/writer’s relationships…. about editors taking pieces apart (or some times small changes) and then getting eaten alive by the writers. A constant artistic battle of the words. Who could blame them – its hard, to see their work changed significantly for the sake of a different point of view… some times the changes are substantial as a new idea grows from the original piece, launching an intent that takes the piece into a different direction. But it happens in the photography world as well…

    How many times have you had to re-shoot (when possible) because an image just did not cut it?

    Crop? Perhaps alter components such a colours? Photoshop large changes?

    I’m sure it must happen…. and I also know its not the same… but hey, its fun comparing it… on a blog that written by a photo editor :D


  4. Yeah, the internet has just opened so many doors for writers. I remember when I first heard about blogs (in an article on CNN.com in 2003), I was just amazed. It is amazing how the internet has had an effect on so many industries. Of course main-streaming anything lets a lot of junk in too.