Saturday, March 28, 2009

Don’t go to sleep edit angry.

Editors, when they’re working, can be a very angry bunch. With apologies to Alexander Pope, if we had a motto it could be, “To err is human, to forgive is out of the question.”

Whether it’s ignoring style manuals and publishing guidelines, and demonstrating that they’ve forgotten or are rejecting what they learned in English and writing classes, many authors really get our knickers in a twist.

The book I’m currently editing is filled with so much crap (nonsensical writing, seriously incomplete references, free-for-all capitalization and punctuation, end note numbers in text not matching end notes, etc.), I’ve been pissed off almost the entire time I’ve been at this edit—more than a month now, part time.

And, my, how my anger has affected my work. As I close in on the Wednesday deadline (appropriately falling on April Fools’ Day), I find more and more things I’ve missed, from the introduction straight through to the conclusion.

As far as I can recall, when I started my editing career back in the eighties I didn’t experience this anger phenomenon. It began perhaps a couple of years ago.

My inner, angry editor is actually uncharacteristic—I’ve grown more tolerant, of everything, as I’ve matured. To what, then, do I attribute this powerful reaction to author errors that earlier didn’t even cause a ripple? One word: BURNOUT.