A few months back, my editor and I were caught in a heated “discussion” regarding a certain passage of Peter Nimble.1 Essentially, she wanted me to remove a paragraph on the grounds that it slowed down the action. Understand that I am usually very eager to rip apart my own work in response to a note … but this particular passage was different.2 When I sat down to write a book, I essentially sat down to write this one passage — and now I was being told to cut it out entirely!
There were a LOT of phone calls, during which I would list countless reasons why these few sentences were necessary to the book. Every time she would say she understood my feelings, but that she couldn’t in good conscience agree. Finally, after what seemed like weeks of back-and-forth, I tried cutting it out — just to see how it read.
You know how this story goes: she was right, I was wrong, “kill your darlings,” blah, blah, blah.3
When I looked over the final proofs of that chapter a few weeks ago, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. My editor is a busy lady, and I’m sure it would have been much easier for her to just let me have my way. But she stuck to her guns, and the book is better for it.
Shortly after that issue was resolved, I sent over a picture as a sort of peace offering:
Way to be awesome, Editorus Rex.
- My editor has a pretty low online profile, so I’ll respect that by not publishing her name … of course if you reallywant to know who she is, it’s printed in back of Peter Nimble! ↩
- In fact, both my wife and agent have at times argued that I can be too eager in this regard. Perhaps that’s a subject for another day. ↩
- Author and blogger Wendy Palmer has a neat little series on writing rules that are often misapplied — including the infamous “Kill your darlings.” It’s worth reading, if for no other reason than to learn that Faulkner didn’t originate that phrase. ↩