Editor’s Lament

Not there to criticise or scratch, the editor takes another person’s words and makes them beautiful; makes them sing … with the correct pitch and tone and perfect clarity. You get rid of any fluff and red spots. Then you skilfully mend the little nicks and catch the stray threads, such that any repairs become invisible and you deliver a tailor-made garment that is unique to the author.

But when your day is more a clump of coal than a diamond, you miss half of the wayward threads, don’t spot the dirt on the sleeve and forget to shear the fluff from the collar. So the thread runs even more; the cat grabs it and there goes half the edging. It doesn’t matter that all the other holes were fixed. Imperfection is disaster to an editor; your ballad becomes a blather and your author doesn’t want to wear your stinky design. So you sharpen your tools, shake the fuzz from your ears, dislodge the needle stuck in your head and put a thread through it once more. And start to plan your career change.


* Wishing everyone a very blessed 2015*

Hello! I’m Annie Smit, trading as Ascension Editing. This site offers writing tips for those interested in current Australian standard editing practice (as well as some UK and US preferences on English grammar and style), while the additional pages offer information about my company.

‘All living languages exist in a state of tension between growth and decay. Languages change because playfulness and the desire to impress are universal human traits; they grow in response to technological innovation, cultural contact and social developments. Working against these impulses to the new are the forces of stability: inertia, the fear of being misunderstood, and the fixative effect of writing.’

‘Spelling is not important in itself, but it is a social marker enabling those who can spell to look down on those who can’t.’

‘Remember that literacy is an accident of birth and does not confer superior wisdom or virtue.’

The Editor’s Companion by Janet Mackenzie.