Unedited Editing Thoughts

I’ve been thinking about editing lately.

I’ve obviously been edited a lot during my career, and I’ve also been an editor back at io9, in what was retrospectively one of the more rewarding parts of a relatively unrewarding time in my career. There are times that I think that I’d like to do more editing officially — I’ve unofficially helped out a bunch in editorial roles, whether it’s copy-editing or doing bigger picture repositioning and revising of already-written material — in large part because I find something really fulfilling in working on other people’s work, and trying to make it better in big ways and small.

Looking at other people’s stuff in an editorial capacity is also really clarifying in what kind of writer you are, and what you want to do with your own work — or, at least, that’s been my experience personally; when I see someone do something that rankles for whatever reason, and then recognize that I do the same thing, a light goes off in my head and a mental note is made to try and change that in future. Similarly, seeing someone do something particularly successfully, especially if it’s something that I’ve struggled with in the past, makes me think about why it works and how I can try to steal some of that mojo for myself.

There’s a skill to editing, of course, but editing is really two separate tasks in one: the ability to read something in a critical, analytical manner to identify what would make it better and sharpen what’s already there (or, if it’s entirely a mess, what to cut and how to salvage it), and the ability to communicate that to the creator in such a way that they hear what you’re saying and don’t think that the message is actually I hate this and you suck. That last bit is more difficult than it sounds, and something that trips up many an editor, in my experience.

Maybe, after the headfuck that has been 2021 professionally, I should start thinking about transitioning into a more editorial role somewhere in 2022…?

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