Tech savvy, design savvy, globally savvy, multiethnically savvy, networking savvy and professionally savvy–in my previous post that’s what I said editors will need to be in the future.
Fellow IVP editor Dan Reid, after reading this, wrote me, “All of the qualities call for flexibility, adaptability. In my experience, the editorial profession attracts a certain lot of people who do not like change. If you can draw blood over a comma, you can fight over anything!”
Dan is on to
something. I have often deliberately cultivated the persona of a curmudgeon. If things aren’t just to my liking, to my particular sense of literary or publishing decorum, well, I can be rather dismissive–in a lovable sort of way, of course.
A while back Dan also sent me a postcard picturing someone sternly shaking an index finger and saying, “Do not make me use my editor voice!” He obviously knew who to send it to.
So by way of analogy, let me appeal to the editorial heart and its love for language. We all recognize that language, especially English, changes constantly and rapidly. Some changes are for the good and some are not. But language transforms despite our best attempts to keep our finger in the dike of change. Good editors will accommodate themselves and their craft to such change in ways that will improve communication from writer to reader.
One other fundamental rule that good writers and good editors adhere to is this: know when to break the rules. Know when to make a change. Sometimes a big, bold change. Sometimes a small, subtle one. What is true in writing and editing is true in life. Know when to break the rules.
Cultivate the curmudgeonly persona? Of course. But also cultivate the flexible persona.