Friday, November 11, 2005

Perfectionists editing perfectionists

Get Your Word On, a feature at, interviews author Elizabeth McCracken.
GYWO: What has been your experience working with editors? How difficult is it to have to deal with someone else's sense of perfection after you have satisfied your own? How helpful is it? How necessary?

EM: I'm not sure I have a sense of perfection - at least, when I'm writing, I like to try to ignore it. Otherwise I'd never get anything done. But it's essential to my work that someone else reads it - I'm capable of writing sentences that sound great but mean next to nothing. My friend Ann Patchett is coming with me to Richmond; she's one of my first readers. She doesn't line-edit - I mean, I'm sure she would if I asked - but she reads my work with generosity and brilliance and bawls me out when I'm being self-indulgent. (Writing an entire chapter to justify one joke, EG.) I have a lovely book editor, too, Susan Kamil, who's smart and useful. I love a fantastic copy-editor - those people who go through novel manuscripts at the very end to make sure sentences and paragraphs and chapters add up, though I'm more likely to politely note in a margin that I know that neither Strunk nor White would approve of a particular comma, but by God McCracken says a comma should go there and so there shall be a comma! [And] I like semi-colons; I like them a lot.


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