Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How I Once Became an Editor

Some of you might know that I'm an Assistant Editor for The Dark Man (TDM), the Journal of Robert E. Howard studies. Since I'm still swamped with work, and I apologise to all whose blogs I haven't been able to visit and whose names I've not yet had time to add to my links, I thought I would run for you today an editorial I wrote for the first issue of TDM after I became an editor. I'll let it speak for itself.

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I’m a writer, the natural prey of those nasty creatures we call editors. So how come I’m suddenly listed as an assistant editor for The Dark Man? How did I end up joining the ranks of my traditional enemies? I assure you that it isn’t my fault. I was trapped, I tell you, and it was one of those big traps, a bear trap. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a “Bearfield” trap.

As a member of The Dark Man review board, I thought my only duties would be to lend my name to the enterprise-—a name well known to almost half a dozen readers-—and to occasionally comment on the various pieces that crossed my electronic desk. I never thought I’d be involved in “whipping” a piece into shape the way that I’ve had editors whip my own work into something marginally less confused than what I’d submitted.

Then along came a submission to The Dark Man on the subject of Pike Bearfield, Robert E. Howard’s “other” comic western hero, and it was a piece I liked very much and which I fought to see included in the Journal. Ah, the price of shooting one’s mouth off.

I somehow got asked to shepherd the aforementioned Bearfield essay through the revision process and into print. Trapped! And it was neatly done, I do have to agree. (I’d suggest that I was hoist with my own petard but that sounds kind of dirty.) To avoid being skinned alive and called luggage, I accepted the role thrust upon me by my "Dark Man" colleagues, and that is how I came to be...an editor.

But, shhh! I haven’t told any of my writer friends yet that I’m now aligned with the enemy. They wouldn’t be happy if they found out, and you know how cruel writers can be. I’m sure my friends know plenty of hurtful ways to call me a traitor and a sell out. They might use words like Judas, Benedict Arnold, Quisling, or maybe even Metallica.

So let's just keep this between us.

22 comments:

Steve Malley said...

They may do worse:

You can expect my submission shortly. It's Bran Mak Morn, the musical comedy...

Shauna Roberts said...

You make it sound so terrible! I get as much satisfaction helping someone else's piece express their ideas better as I do working on my own WIP. Didn't you feel at least a tiny thrill at making that article clearer, cleaner, and a better reflection on the magazine?

Travis Erwin said...

Thanks for the smile, but then all of us have a bit of editor lurking deep within.

The evil little seed that makes us keep rewriting and changing a word her e and there in to perpetuity.

Shauna Roberts said...

P.S. Did you know that Lana has the makings of an (gasp) editor?

moonrat said...

"nasty creatures"?!?!

fine, fair enough. i know we are.

but now I'M a writer, TOO. well, a catalog copy writer, at least. humph.

SQT said...

Steve beat me to it! I was going to say that maybe you shouldn't admit to being an editor or else we'd all swamp you with revision requests...

Miladysa said...

I won't tell a soul!

I think everything I know about publishing and editoring I have discovered on your blog or through the links you have provided.

Kate S said...

I won't mention it, Charles. I, too, have been sleeping with the enemy for the past year, but I won't admit which publisher. ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

Steve, you know there is a work entitled “Bran Mak Morn: A Play.”

Shauna, there is satisfaction in the work, but I can’t honestly say I enjoy it. I’ve actually done quite a lot of editing, for The Dark Man and for a student psychology journal we had for years. It’s an important job and I admire those who can do it well. I can do it but I tend to find it hard work. As for Lana and editing, surely you jest. Not my sweet and innocent wife.

Travis Erwin, you’re right. It’s something we’re all born with. Sort of like original sin ;)

Moonrat, I’m glad you realize that my comment about “nasty creatures” was made tongue firmly in cheek. Or, well, partly in cheek. Well, touching my cheek, at least. ;)

SQT, for the right fee I might consider it. Big, Big fees. LOL

Miladysa, I’m blushing. Thanks for the compliment.

Kate, we all flirt with the dark side on occasion. You simply must try the “Get thee behind me, Satan” line. I find it works well for me.

Shauna Roberts said...

If you don't believe me about Lana, check out her post at my blog today. Her eyes caught what several other people's didn't.

Donnetta Lee said...

Well, I'm not telling. I was offered a job as an editor of a newsletter for professionals. Couldn't take the job as hubby and I moved across the state but did freelance writing for them for a while. Wonder how it would have been? Won't know now. You're good at anything you do connected to writing! So go forth...
Donnetta

Lisa said...

Aww -- come on! I already looked up to you and now I'm even more impressed. There are a whole bunch of authors who I'll bet will NEVER be invited to act as editors. I think it's great :)

Lana Gramlich said...

And a lovely petard it is. ;)

Sheila said...

there is evil in every job. Usually it's the person higher up than we are. haha

Ello said...

You know secretly my dream is to be an editor also just to know what it feels like to have the power to crush writer's hopes and dreams. ;o)

ivan said...

Yeah, Metallica.

If I ever hear that nasal "eeyup" one more time,I'll scream.

But writers do moonlight as reviewers and editors.
And congratulations.

December/Stacia said...

I agree, I think it's cool. And totally understandable. I like beta reading/critting. I enjoy having in-depth discussions about other writers' work with them only slightly less than I enjoy having such discussions about my own.

Charles Gramlich said...

Shauna, I see you are right about Lana. I gaze now upon her with new eyes.

Donnetta, a narrow escape to be sure.

Lisa, once again I'm blushing.

Lana, I'm really blushing, and smiling.


Sheila, excellent point. I need to remember that one.


Ello, power corrupts and the absolute power of the editor corrupts absolutlely?

Ivan, I suppose it is one of our dirty little secrets.


December/Stacia, any good discussion on writing is fun, for sure.

ChristineEldin said...

Ahhh, that's a nice story!

You make it sound terrible (like Shauna says) but I think you have a big ol' smile in your heart!!
:-)

RRN said...

That is so cool you shared this Charles. I thought it was so awesome. Reading this with a big old smile on my worn face was a bit of a treat. It was inspiring and witty to say the least. The last line slayed me ....regarding Metallica....My god man....Brilliance.

RRN said...

Oh..

I had to look up the word 'petard'. Awesome use of the word petard Charles. ha.

Well...While I should have been taking advanced composition classes in high school I was busy failing the standard English classes and lifting weights with the knuckle heads for passing grades instead. I admit this to be a massive mistake now. haha.

Charles Gramlich said...

Christineeldin, a smile somewhere of course. ;)

RRN, glad you got the Metallica joke. I'm not sure anyone else did.