|"T. S. Eliot’s manuscript of The Waste Land|
with corrections by Ezra Pound."
“This weekend, as part of the New Zealand festival, The Luminaries author and winner of the Man Booker prize, Eleanor Catton, discussed deletion, deadlines and several other facets of the writer-editor relationship with her British editor Max Porter. If this sounds a little like sitting down with your ex-husband to publicly discuss why he always disliked your sense of humour, then think again; the modern editor is, according to Porter, ‘part proofreader, part therapist, part in-house champion and, increasingly, there to put a marketisation on the written word.’ […]
With 391,000 books being self-published in the US in 2012 alone, the old 20th-century model of the creative editor is, according to Porter, ‘an endangered species.’ While Porter described his role as ‘like making a pot’ alongside a writer ‘using gentle tweaks and nudges,’ it is nevertheless a ‘highly irritable occupation.’ And a thankless one, judging from Catton's anecdote about sitting next to Germaine Greer at an awards ceremony as Greer leant over and whispered very loudly that, ‘there's no such thing’ as a good editor.
At its foundation the role of the editor is a blend of meddler and midwife. You're expected to not just pinch, pluck and pull a novel into shape, but, in many cases, make sure the thing is being written at all.”
— Nell Frizzell, The Guardian
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