May’s Question of the Month

Who needs an editor, anyway?

It’s an easy attitude to adopt faced with the persnickety comments people feel compelled to dish out when reading your stuff. But finding a discerning eye to look over your work is as important as research and story development.

I’ve worked with some difficult editors during my journalism career. I sat behind a guy who repeatedly banged his phone on his desk to vent his frustration with the incompetent living among us. Despite his prickly personality, I preferred his critical eye to editors who wanted to breeze through and get on with editing the next article.

The editor to avoid is a nitpicker who seemingly comes up with criticism just to have something to say. If you find yourself in that kind of relationship, bolt if you can. If you’re stuck, put helpful comments to use and otherwise picture yourself surrounded by a giant bubble that repels all the baloney.

Editors are a built-in function of a print shop. If you’re on your own out there working on a Pulitzer, look for other writers who want to network.

My Other Bunch buddies, Bonnie, Dixie, Pat, and I formed a critique group. Pat gets the credit for rounding up our foursome. We attempt to meet monthly to talk about writing and critique one another’s essays and fiction. We solve dilemmas such as how to get a character from point A to point B. We offer objective feedback, even though sometimes it may be hard to hear.

I’m not sure how long we have been meeting. It’s got to be at least ten years and several books later. We have watched each other grow as writers – and as friends. It’s a great way to share a love of reading and writing and develop our craft, not to mention get our manuscripts that much further along before submitting them for publication. My work still is in the developmental stages as I have many excuses I can bore you with, but I’ve got big plans.

Even if it’s your grandma, find someone to read your stuff. Take the helpful comments to heart and use the rest for a baloney sandwich.

-Jennifer Sandmann


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