Sunday, 13 February 2011

Editing; is it a lost art?

While I had breakfast this morning I read the article above by Alex Clark.  Since I do a fair bit of editing my interest was certainly aroused.  From a very low key perspective I can agree with the points made by all the contributors. 

I've always thought it to be the most difficult of skills, especially if you're trying to edit your own work.  I've gone over pieces of mine half a dozen times, printed them out, left them and when I've gone back, found the most glaring of mistakes.

Alex Clark talks about the pressures of commercial publishing impacting on editing services.  That's true but also there's a reduced expectation of the need for editing.  After all if we have a spell checker programme, why would we need a human editor?

Sorry to be ironic but that's been put to me on more than one occasion as a serious question.  I always bless those of my clients who despite their writing skills value the detached observation I can bring to their writing. 

As a professional it amuses me to see the corrections in library books made by a previous enraged reader. And it does surprise me that for books frequently reprinted,  mistakes continue to appear.  Back to cost again I suppose.

The best editors as it says in the article, address not only the proof reading mistakes but the structure of whatever they're reading.  I know I've benefitted from some observations on the small piece of manuscript I had assessed recently.  Yes at first it can damage your ego and make you feel useless, but when you get over that, then there's a lot of value in what insights are offered.

Long live editors say I.

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