My Editor is a Demon


Thierry: So we are working on my book L’Amerique, and you’re being very…

Arielle: Patient. Positive. Punctual. Practical.

Thierry: Um… Is there a polite word for demanding? Pushy?

Arielle: I think the word you’re looking for is “effective.” Not a P word, unfortunately.

Thierry: Well, pushy  was not the word I was looking for anyway. More attenuated, yet with the same impact…

And by the way, I want to say here and now that you’re doing a spectacular job.  I’ve been reading the new version and it flows very well, but you are sort of demanding. I mean, “I want this in my inbox by Wednesday?”

Arielle: I want this in my inbox by Wednesday…please?

Thierry: I forgot. What is is you want by Wednesday?

Arielle: I would like you to please look over chapter 21 and 22 and to please decide if there is a way that we can salvage some of the content and plot from those two chapters s’il te plait, as I distinctly remember you bemoaning the fact that if we cut those chapters, we would lose so much of your valuable work. So, darling, precious, if you would be ever so kind, may I please have your thoughts on the matter in my inbox by Wednesday so that I can get on with editing YOUR book? Please?

Thierry:You  told me a few days ago that you weren’t sarcastic but I sense a degree of it here. Also, you’ve never said please or called me precious in your entire editing career so you can understand that I’m a bit, um, taken aback.  Confused, Égaré as the French would say.

Arielle: Okay. So, you want me to be real with you?

Thierry: Um. I’m not sure…

Arielle: Well, I know that you’ve been in this writing business for a few years. You’ve gotten used to people blowing you off, not responding, taking forever to get back to you, claiming to have read your work when they really haven’t, etc, etc. I know. You’ve blogged about it before. Am I right?

Thierry:  You are. One of the most frustrating parts of writing and trying to market to agents and publishers is the incredible arrogance of these people. Most agents don’t bother to even respond anymore. They say, “If you don’t hear from us in four months, it means we’re not interested.”  Most publishers won’t look at your stuff if it  doesn’t come through an agent.  Okay. End of rant. So yes, you’re right.  

Arielle: That does sound incredibly frustrating. Luckily, you have me! I’m not blowing you off. I’m working on your book right now, and I expect us to be keeping to a regular schedule of progress. You can have it one of two ways, Thierry. I can take this seriously, we can work on this book like we mean it and we can finish the thing in time to send out some good query letters before summer’s out, or we can blow it off, work on it sometimes, and do what we feel like, when we feel like doing it. Do you want to get this book published before I’m dead?

Thierry: Certainly, before I’m dead, dear. Please, please, s’il te plait, devote all your waking hours to it.

Arielle: That’s more like it. The thing will be in my inbox on Wednesday, yes?

Thierry:  Thursday.

Arielle: I’m sorry, did I stutter?

Thierry: My next story will be, Ten Ways to Deal with a Pushy Editor. Friday. Maybe Saturday.

Arielle: Get me the thing I asked for by Wednesday, and it’s just possible that somebody might actually read your next story.


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