Sunday, November 21, 2010

Going Both Ways?

First a bit of self promotion, then some commentary because who am I to let any opportunity for commentary pass us by? Some of you may already be aware, but I am the editor of a swank little joint on the web called The Flash Fiction Offensive. It's sponsored by Out Of The Gutter magazine and scratches a particular itch of mine that I've been missing since my days editing Demolition. It's less trouble and allows me to concentrate on the things I enjoy most—editing and developing stories and writers—without all of the other crap associated with running a journal. So go and check it out and if it gets your giddy in a bubble maybe you'll even want to submit.

Now, to the commentary. Prior to attempting my first novel I worked for a year in New York City as an editorial assistant with Random House. This opened my eyes in many ways and was directly responsible for me finally getting my butt in gear to finish my first novel. Since then, I think that and other experiences I've had on the other side of the submission desk have given me a leg up in the submission and networking process. There are others of course. Jason Pinter and Al Guthrie come immediately to mind as guys who have had success on both sides of the editorial desk and I'm wondering what others think of this.

Are there any writers out there who have thought about taking a gig editing or reading submissions or whatever to give them an advantage in submissions or just to try and be a more understanding writer? I know some others here at DSD come from journalism backgrounds, but I'm talking good old-fashioned traditional publishing.

And from the other direction, would you ever want an editor or an agent who was also a writer? I'm kind of torn on that myself. I think they would certainly bring a more understanding ear and eye to the table, but I'd always worry that I'd be dumped if they're writing career ever really took off. How about you?


Jay Stringer said...

Good question.

I enjoy editing other people's stories. I think i have a pretty good grasp of how to help others with structure and character -often far better than on my own work.

But given how bad I am with grammar, spelling and making cups of tea, I also don't see myself as very employable in that regard, so i stay on this side of the desk, typing away and talking to myself in a darkened room at 3Am.

Owen Laukkanen said...

I enjoy editing other people's work as well, but I've avoided editing jobs, mainly because I try to avoid any job that involves any writing whatsoever. I've worked as a journalist, and after writing and editing all day the last thing I wanted to do when I came home was bang on the keyboard for a few more hours.

I have this notion that people in publishing are all writers in one form or another. That's probably a misconception, though.

Melissa Sugar said...

I enjoy novice editing because when I am reading the work of another writer I am not so involved in the story that I miss things. However, much like someone else pointed out, I am terrible with spelling and grammer so I would not be anyone's choice to edit their work.

As for having an editor or agent who is also a writer, I think it would be a bonus. Of course their writing career could take off, but having someone with their talent would benefit me while they represented me.


Editing someone else's work can be difficult; I have to be very carefuly I'm not injecting my voice into their work.

As far as working with an editor or agent who's a writer, I have mixed feelings. The editors I worked with on both my books are also writers--and everything went well. I think their writing experiences made them more sensitive and helpful. On the other hand, I'm skeptical of an agent who is also a writer. The term Conflict of Interest comes to mind...