Editors are ‘tortured souls’

Andrew Mackay calls editors “tortured souls with red pens.” The question is, have they become editors because they are tortured souls, or are their souls tortured by spilling ink on authors’ manuscripts? Or by writers’ horrid mistakes? Or maybe it’s just some kind of personal confession of his.

Then again, maybe the writing editor made a slip (existential question of the day: do editors err?) and meant to say, “torturing souls.” Nah, only authors believe that. Editors are the author’s necessary evil, and maybe the adjective can be dispensed with, some writers think.

At least, Mackay recognizes that editors are the author’s salvation. For he are one.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

3 thoughts on “Editors are ‘tortured souls’

  1. (in which I prove myself to be no editor by my poorly constructed sentences)

    Just one correction — I’m but a “lowly” writer myself, in addition to being a some-time book designer, avid reader, oft-times critic-in-my-head.

    However, from the editors I know, I think the tortured souls are the result of long days trying to remember which rule from the Chicago Manual of Style should apply in any instance. And fighting over which version of the Chicago Manual of Style is best. And deadlines.

    And on a slightly more serious note, there’s no doubt in my mind that editors err. But, I’m similarly confident that working with a good editor results in better work than working with no editor at all.

    Thanks for the fun post! I didn’t even mark my screen with any red ink.

  2. Andrew, was all in fun, for sure. Remembering all the details does torture the soul.

    John, that last line was done on purpose. Couldn’t you tell? uh-oh

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