The Lighthouse Writers Top-Secret Blog

All the latest news, ideas, and opinions from Denver's Independent Literary Center: lighthousewriters.org

Writers and Their Editors

Just popping in to point you to this article at The Awl, where five writers — Haven Kimmel, Matthew Gallaway, Calvin Baker, Emily Gould, Don Van Natta Jr. — discuss the biz in general and their relationships with their editors in particular. It’s quite a long piece, but well worth it. For instance, there’s this from Kimmel:

I am possessed of very little wisdom or advice where writing is concerned, but I do know a few things. Behave like a professional from the first word. Extreme eccentricity is seen through with lightning swiftness, so drop it. You do not have to live in Brooklyn, and your name does not have to be Jonathan, and the vagaries of the press and the critics add up to little more than a lion roaring at the desert. If it looks like white, heterosexual privilege, it is, and although I doubt there is another Quaker out there reading these words we are all tasked to speak truth to power; do it with surgical delicacy and grace. There is no hill you want to die on, but it is your name on the front of the book. Everyone involved in the process, from assistants to editors to publishers to journalists, is worthy of your complete attention and your unwavering politeness and kindness. If you’re tired or frustrated or feel shanghaied, have a cocktail, take your meds, keep your mouth shut. There are no geniuses here, and no one—not one person on this earth—is owed the honor of being published OR read by public. Most importantly, it is impossible for any editor or any house to create a bestseller. They put their efforts where they can, and as I once heard a commentator say during an IU basketball game, sometimes you get the W and sometimes you get the doughnut. Grown men do not wear shorts, outside of the beach or the grill, so dress like a man and stand like a man and take your punches like a man, which I say as a woman who took boxing lessons as a child but refrains from beating the crap out of other people out of respect for Quakerism. Truly, best of luck to all of you.

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This entry was posted on December 14, 2010 by in Uncategorized.

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