Sweet and Sour: My first taste of editing

Today was the day I have been looking forward to since I joined my University’s creative writing anthology editing team. I am not going to lie, the vain part of me loves the fact I can say I am an editor. It will also be epic work experiance with the added fact that I am only one of two first years who made it onto the team. Yes, I feel special.

Basically, the day consisted of us all reading the pieces each. For poetry we marked it with our initials and then a straight forward YES or NO. For fiction we numbered it from 1-3.

  • 1- epic, must go in, little editing.
  • 2- must go in/ debate whether goes in+ a lot of editing.
  • 3-just no/ too much editing.

I was surprised how ruthless we became. We started out lovely, saying all the good points in each piece but then as the hours (literally hours) dragged on and on and on, we became so harsh. “It would be good if their was a plot,” “I think it is ****,” and “You are just saying words!!!” were some of my favourite phrases of the day. However, I did come across some absolutely amazing work as well. This is the sort of work that makes you swear that the author can somehow see into the very depths of your soul. Some of the work genuinely moved me and some made me giggle like a little schoolgirl on laughing gas.

We also had to judge artwork to go in. This was even harder because everyone has even more varied opinions about art. I swear, at times a bare knuckles boxing fight was about to break out. Pistols at dawn, kind of thing. It got intense. We argued a lot. We fought our corners for our favourite pieces. I drank way too much coffee even though I have sworn against coffee (see previous post.)

But would I do it again?


I learnt so much doing this. I learnt about commercial aims of books, about readership and target audience. I learnt how much work actually goes into the editing process and that I should be thankful for my own editors and not whine about how they are destroying my work or just don’t get me. They do. They really do. But the thing is, they are trying to improve it, FOR YOU. Editors are like that one friend you have that you always take shopping. She doesn’t tell you that you look nice in everything, she tells you the truth. Yes, you do look fat in those jeans and no, pink does not suit you. They tell you these home truths because they love you. Editors try and get your work to the highest standard they can, FOR YOU. Yes, it can sound a bit harsh when they say “change this and that and this and that and all of this bit and just for goodness sake change that and call him Earl not Jim.” But chances are they know better. Chances are they know what sells. Like it or not, at the end of the day that it what counts, WHAT SELLS.

I have also learnt the value of presenting your work well. If you put in the effort, my friends, it does show and it makes the editors like you so much more than the random person who submitted their work with coffee stains, no punctuation or grammar and really blurry images. As editors we are so much kinder to people who put in that bit of extra effort just to make our job a bit easier. Yes, I am talking to the people who forget to number their pages.

Do you know how long it takes to figure out what is going on when you first have to order the pages? A long time, my friends, a long long time.

Guess what my mood will be like when I have finally done that? Not good, not good at all.

Will your work be put in? Probably not. Shame, mate.

It isn’t right, I know. But that is how it happens.

I am buzzing right now. It could be the coffee, it could be the editing. Now I just can’t wait to get my individual pieces to copy edit. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into a piece and thrash out changes with an author. This has got to be an option for my future career. Got to be. It is stressful, brilliant, exhausting, engaging, weird, brutal, harsh, aggrovating, argumentative, contraversial, wonderful and totally worth every second. I even stayed late to help get all of the entries looked at. I know, right. Me, do extra work? Weird.

I hope everyone else has had some sort of uplifting/ inspiring moment recently.


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