Why Did I Become an Editor?

by Carina Guiterman, Associate Editor

I’ve been asked to write an answer to the question, “Why did I become an editor?”, which seems like it should be a fairly easy task. Well, not for me! The day that this post is due (nothing like a looming deadline to get me moving!) I pull up Microsoft Word and open up a blank document. Nothing, other than cockroaches, the acclaimed films The Grudge and The Grudge 2, and I guess I should probably also say the state of the world today so people know I read the news, scares me as much as a blank Microsoft Word document. Many people assume that since I edit novels, I must also be a writer. Folks, I am not.

But I’ve always loved editing. I remember editing all of my friends’ Civics papers in middle school, and that habit continued throughout high school. Whereas I dreaded writing my own college application essays (and would rather eat a cockroach while watching The Grudge than reread them today), I loved editing the essays my friends wrote. In college, I was the opinions editor at the campus newspaper (I also had the equally important task of picking up the pizza every week), and while I found editing the op-eds to be relaxing–cathartic, even–my own columns would always be written in a state of mild to severe panic, completed minutes before the deadline.

Sometimes I wonder why I enjoy editing other people’s writing so much, but hate producing material of my own. Does it mean I’m judgmental and opinionated but not self-aware? Perhaps, but this is a Hachette newsletter, not a therapy session, so I’ll move right along. What I know for sure is that I’m in awe of people who can just open up a document and feel the words flow out of them, who can make whole worlds come alive on the page. I know that’s grossly simplifying things — I doubt that writing is actually that easy for anyone, even the most prolific of authors — but still, the ability of authors to create these worlds, these characters, these scenarios, never fails to astound me. Sure, I can hopefully improve on these creations, but if you asked me to build one of these worlds from scratch? Let’s just say that that book might not have a very high Goodreads rating.

I guess all this is to say that what I love most about editing is working with people who I’m truly in awe of. I know that I can’t do what my authors do, and it’s exciting to be reminded of that every day, to realize over and over again that I get to work with people who have an ability that is unique and rare.

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