Today’s writing quote comes from one-time managing editor of Harper’s: Russell Lynes. The story of writing goes, of course, that writers love their own work. We’re simply enamored of it. We have to be; how else do we summon the courage to expose it to the world, and even – horror of horrors – submit it to the whims of an editor to consider for publication. It takes more than a thick skin; it takes a belief that what we’ve written is good and worthy of publication.
So, perhaps, it may come as no surprise that, unless we’re well acclimated to the idea, some writers may have a little difficulty hearing that what they’ve written… needs work. Some writers might even grow a little hostile to the notion that their work is anything less than perfect already. But here’s a quote to set you straight about that inclination, should you ever feel it welling up inside you:
No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published.
Yes indeed. If you’ve already gone through the trouble of submitting your work, and you now get feedback that the editor requires changes, consider the alternative.
In fact, no writer’s work is ever perfect. Even the classics, great though they typically are, can be flawed. Not a few of those, for instance, have been known to bore your average grammar school reader to the point of giving up on reading altogether. But as writers, we must come to build a relationship of trust with our editors. Because the editor’s job is to make sure that the best possible quality work makes it to the reading public. The editor’s job is to make sure the reading public get something they want to read.
And if our work is good enough to catch the editor’s eye, the editor’s eye might indeed be good enough to know where it needs polish. So, ask yourself… do you want only to write and not so much to be read… or do you want to be published? It’s an important question, without an obvious answer, whatever you may think. Some people gain most of the benefit out of the writing itself, so the question of editing will matter little to them. For those who are really committed to publication, an acceptance of editorial revision is important.