Thierry: So, Arielle, you’ve agreed to edit my book, L’Amérique.
Arielle: YAAAAAAAY SERIOUS EDITING!
Thierry: I must admit that when you originally threatened to “slash the book with a chainsaw,” it sort of filled me with dread.
Arielle: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY CHAINSAWS! Wait, why? What’s scary about that? This is editing, right? You want me to edit your book and help you make it even better than it already is (which is saying something). I have to ATTACK IT WITH GUSTO! CHUTZPAH! METAPHORICAL CHAINSAWS!
Thierry: The words “chainsaw” and “book” don’t belong in the same sentence, sort of like haddock and whipped cream don’t belong together…
Arielle: No? Circle saw? Jig saw? Table saw? Laser beams? Ooooh, I like laser beams…
Thierry: Pay attention, please. How about something civilized like scalpel, or red pencil? I’m sort of old school.
Arielle: Oh. Well. I mean. We COULD do that, but none of those implements gives you that same sense of urgency and adventure! You can’t have an adventure armed with a red pencil. I guess a scalpel would work, maybe, but it’s not really my style. You realize we’re not actually going to chainsaw anything, right? These are all just metaphors. It’s just a plan of attack. Like, I’m going to get really intense on this book and make it the best it can possibly be! I’m going to put forward six hundred percent! Right?
Thierry: I don’t have any doubt that. The big issue here is that I’ve worked on this book for more than a decade. I thought it was done and I was pretty certain it would find a publisher quickly. It hasn’t. Thing is, you live with a book long enough and it becomes set in stone. The idea of making changes is, well, hard.
So, handing it over was a serious move. But you’ve done a stellar job on the other stuff of mine you’ve edited, so there was never a question of anyone else touching that book. Plus, I’ve seen the way you work. You’re meticulous, which is important, and you have a pretty good vocabulary.So I’m delighted! And curious, I guess.
Arielle: Oh, um, thanks! Hooray! I’m glad you’re delighted!
Thierry: Calloo callay!
Arielle: So, wait…this isn’t going to be a problem is it? I mean, I totally understand, I do, that this book is really important to you. Of course it is, it’s your magnum opus, I get that. There are certain changes that we’ve agreed to make, though, and if it’s going to really upset you every time I have to cut something we’re…well, we’re probably not going to go far without everything getting a little out of hand. Okay, wait, maybe I don’t actually understand because I’ve never written a 400 page novel. I usually direct my own plays so no one cuts them. I, uh. Is this maybe not a good idea?
Thierry: Nah, it’s a great idea. And the couple of chapters you’ve already done more than allay any fear I had. You’re using a very tiny chainsaw, more like nail clippers really, and that works. I’m sure we’ll have some differences of opinion, that’s normal and it would be strange not to differ on some issues, but by and large, I’m certain this is going to work out well. We’ll have a better, more readable and approachable book. More dialog, less exposition. And probably no sentence fragments.
Arielle: Wait, but that last thing you wrote was a sentence fragm-! Oh. I get it. Yeah. Okay. Sounds good.
Thierry: I think it really boils down to trust between us. I trust you to apply your talents to something that will eventually become closer to your own, and you trust me to not bitch and whine and moan and, basically, to understand that you will spare no effort to make this a better work. It’s a win-win.
Arielle: Okay. I’ll try. I promise. Can I trust you to not make any more sentence fragment jokes?
Thierry: No. Well, maybe. There are some important issues here. We’re trying to make this book conform more to my agent’s vision of what will sell. We have to change the point of view. We’re probably going to lose at least 100 pages of stuff, some of which I’ve liked a lot.There’s going to be some pain involved. But then again, no one ever said writing was a safe craft.
Arielle: So…full speed ahead, chainsaws and damn the torpedos? I don’t actually want this to be painful at all. I love the book as it is, I really do, but you’re right in that we need to make some changes in order to sell it. It’s better, I guess, that we have a concrete set of instructions (the term “concrete” is admittedly debatable), because that makes it clearer that these edits aren’t necessarily changes that I feel we should make, but changes that the agent feels we should make. I don’t have to be the bad guy!
Thierry: Full speed ahead, damn the chainsaws.
Arielle: Okay, okay…no chainsaws. You never let me have any fun…
Thierry: We know the chosen role in my life is to remove an semblance of enjoyment from your life. Right. I’m actually really looking forward to what you’ll do with this. I think it’s going to be a challenge for both of us. But we’ve already done, what, three chapters? I think these came out a lot better than the original, so yeah, have fun. You do great work when you have fun
Arielle: Aw. Yay. Thank you! I’m looking forward to this too!