Kill Your Darlings Not Your Editor

Given the grammar and punctuation transgressions on this blog, you’ll probably find it hard to believe that I qualified as a book editor over a decade ago. *Sharp intakes of breath around the Blogosphere* Yes, you know who you are. πŸ˜€ Breathe easy; I’ve yet to give up my day job.

What I do know is that editing is critical to the writing process and essential for, at the very least, published works and professional documents. And what I did learn in studying for my editing qualification is the need for tact when dealing with authors and their work, no matter how awful either.

At work, I edit my own writing before and after I get someone else to edit it. Even so, when I do the final edit, I’m often bemused to find a number of errors remaining. When it comes to prose, I know my weak areas: omission of functions words, homonym misuse and comma confusion, to name but a few, so I know what to look for. But, poetry? I really have no idea.

So it is with heartfelt gratitude, appreciation and admiration that I thank Linda Cosgriff (a.k.a. The Laughing Housewife) for the gift of her editing expertise on my first poetry collection.

Linda is what the publishing industry (if she were to put herself out there) would consider an exceptional editor: she knows her stuff, and she is unafraid to say what needs to be said on both form and style but does so in an encouraging, tactful and respectful manner. And she sends gifts. πŸ˜€

I’ve taken most of her advice…
..OK, I admit I’ve granted clemency to some of my poor darlings.

Any errors remaining in the book are purely mine.

You have done me an immense favour, Linda dear. Thank you for the gift of your friendship, your valued input and the Olympic Games bookmark with the inspiring quote.Β β™₯β™₯β™₯


25 thoughts on “Kill Your Darlings Not Your Editor

  1. Never knew you were an editor previously, BB. You are right in that authors and their writings need to be treated with much tact. Something positive always needs to be said about the work the work you’re editing… I always pity editors when they read my work as I tend to explain my ideas in a long-winded manner (when I’m writing non-fiction, academic-style articles) πŸ˜€

    • I fill a number of different roles in my professional life, Mabel, including technical writing and technical-writing-related editing roles, so the latter is the main reason why I did the editing qualification, but it’s not my core competency. πŸ™‚ It’s always easier to edit another’s work than one’s own. There’s a clarity at play that’s elusive in one’s own work. πŸ˜‰

      • Interesting to hear, BB. You sound like you like words and like writing a lot. No wonder you blog. You’re right. It’s so hard picking your own work apart. I struggle with that a lot when I’m redrafting articles πŸ™‚

  2. I am an editor too, who is constantly amazed at how difficult it is to edit your own work. Do you have any “tricks” to share about editing? Do you read your work aloud as you’re proofing and keep a list of common items to check? That’s what I do!

  3. Great insight! I am an English teacher, and I write fiction on the side. I would like to say that I am a great editor, but it’s those itty bitty mistakes that I miss that drive me insane!!! πŸ™‚

  4. What was that line from Shakespeare… “For me, it’s easier to lecture twenty people on how to be good than to be the one person out of twenty who actually does good things. ” I think it applies to being an editor. πŸ™‚

  5. Having done a postgrad cert. in editing, and then finding that my book’s ms retained many typos that I had NEVER seen, I understand where you’re coming from, bb !! Happily for me, the editing I subsequently did ‘professionally’ was on PhD and Masters theses, so I could be critical when it was required (far too often, alas !).
    So what’s happening with the book, then…?

  6. Looking forward to the collection bb πŸ™‚ You are right about the sensitivities involved – I think I may have traumatised a young poet who asked me to edit one of his poems – the red pen was abundant (however, as one who loves constructive feedback I was a bit slow to realise how much pain I had produced #oops).

    • It is so easy to do, Gabe. But, also, the other side of the coin is that if anyone wants to be a writer, they have to learn to take criticism, no matter how it’s delivered. πŸ™‚

  7. “Gled to here aboot yer creeative and grammeritcal side. Hopes youz poe-tree boook doze well. ”

    As a retired English teacher, I still find the grammar rules head spinning – what would get me was after looking at students’ work, it would become the norm. πŸ˜€

    BTW I am exploring more extreme/stretched visual and written processes over on my other blog, Implied Spaces.

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