Friday, May 30, 2014

Statements I Hate to Hear from Writers (Part 1 of 3)

(an encore post)

"I know there are mistakes, but an editor can fix it. That's what editors do, isn't it?" While I was doing a Q & A on a radio station, a caller said those words.

Yes, that is what editors do—after they accept a manuscript. They expect well written, grammatically correct submissions. Their job is to improve a good manuscript and make it into an excellent one. As a professional, I'd be ashamed to send anything to an editor that was less than my best work.

"I want to write good," one woman said at a writers conference. (She should have said well.) "But if I spent all my time learning to spell and write better English, I wouldn't get any good writing done."

"I wouldn't hire a carpenter who didn't know how to use a hammer," I replied. "Good writers know their craft—that's their box of tools. If you don't know sentence structure, learn before you submit."

She shrugged and walked away.

Professional writers take pride in presenting quality manuscripts; 
those who don't care remain amateurs.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with improving one's writing.

  2. it's a pity to see and hear more proofs that we are living in a culture of "fast": food, love, relationships (I mean, fast-come, fast-go), untrimmed and unfinished things. And now, even writing. I wouldn't believe that any "fast writer" has anything to give me beyond the things I already know. Whatever an editor can do, would only be just adding slimy sauce and garlic to a lame dish - I wouldn't buy it, I wouldn't consume it.

  3. mea culpa: "It's a pity to see and hear more proofs about the fact that..."

  4. Oh, it is so embarrassing to submit a well-written piece, my best work, and find some small typo inserted itself while the work was in transit.
    It is so easy to do.

  5. Oh my...those reactions surprise me, but I think I know, as an English teacher for 25 years, how this happens. When most teachers say edit, they are referring to correcting errors. So as adults, people think that is what editors do. Revising, as used in the public education classroom, is the term used for fixing content, re-arranging, removing, etc. So maybe it's us English teachers that should start using publishing terminology correctly so it relates to the world outside of school! Differentiating between an edit for mechanics and a content edit is something I try to do, but this makes me realize that I need to teach students what an editor does for a job.


What are your thoughts?