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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Thursday, November 1, 2007 11:30 am
Editing Examind
Posted by: Keir Graff

Gordon Lish may have been a ruthless editor, but he was also a ruthless writer, according to Gerald Howard: the man who took an axe to Raymond Carver’s prose allowed no whittling of his own. At least, that’s what would have happened had Howard tried. From Slate (“I Was Gordon Lish’s Editor“):

However, I can tell you this with complete certainty: Had I had any bright editorial ideas, Lish would have summarily rejected them. His control-freak obsessiveness redoubled itself when it came to his own work…He wanted what he wanted, and that was that. He was a living no-editing zone. Except, of course, when it came to his author’s work; then out came the pick and the shovel and the scalpel and the drill.

(I don’t mean the past tense to make it sound as if Lish is dead; I believe he has retired.)

Also, on Galleycat, an anonymous editor complains not of not being allowed to do his work but perhaps working too much (“Your Sobering Industry Evaluation for the Morning“).

“As an editor,” this reader continues, “I can tell you that my occupation does not have a bright future and working in publishing is not for the sane…

Also, the pay is poor (“An Editor’s Angstful Cry Draws Mixed Reactions“). Who’s to blame? Agents. Sheesh. Hang in there, it’s almost Friday.

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