Thursday, June 28, 2012
Watch Your Speed
Tell them you are also an editor, though, and the sparkle dulls and they start fidgeting and mumbling about having left a bunch of wet clothes in the dryer. Now, you're really a nerd.
Hey, I get it. Writers create. They make things happen on the page that no one else ever thought of before or if they did think of it, it wasn't in quite that way. And then editors come along with their big red pencils and Cheetos-stained fingers and spoil all the fun, regardless of the fact that editors and writers need each other like oil needs vinegar and wings need wind, even if it all ends up so very Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Not to mention that whenever anything goes horribly wrong, it's the editor who takes the fall. I recently took a big one, part of a triad of FUBAR-esque ineptitude formed when the writer, my copy editor, and I neglected to pay full attention. No sauce to go with that crow.
Nor with the one I ate a couple years ago, a fork-up I will share with you because it perfectly illustrates how mistakes are very often the result of the complex wiring of the human brain, which, were I superstitious, I'd believe has a separate will of its own.
I was assigning a series of stories on a regional magazine for which I have served as editor for five years. One of them a profile on a local business person and community advocate. The publisher gave me the gal's name: Casey.
"What's her last name?" I asked.
The publisher frowned slightly and then replied, "I don't know. Jones?"
Not realizing she was being flippant, I sent the writer her contract, outlining that she would be interviewing a Ms. Casey Jones. The writer in this case was not a newbie, but the former editor of an award-winning city weekly. Which means, like any writer worth the paper their degree is printed on, they know to always, always, check the correct spellings of any names used in a story.
Writer writes story, sends to me before deadline, and I edit, noticing that subject's name is, indeed, Casey Jones.
Issue comes out. Two days later, I receive a call from a very irate Casey . . . something else. Who yells at me, "How on earth did you all get my name wrong? I told the writer several times!"
Yes, but did you tell her brain?