Twitter | Search | |
CC Finlay
One of the things fiction editors never talk much about (to me) is the emotional labor of editing. Every time an editor reads a submission, we need to be emotionally open to the effects of the story, with a clear awareness (if possible) of what the writer is intending to do.
Reply Retweet Like More
CC Finlay Jun 18
Replying to @ccfinlay
It's the only way to be fair to the story =and= to our readers, who will be coming to the story with that same openness.
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 18
Replying to @ccfinlay
But then we have to turn that off. Evaluating whether a story works or doesn't work requires detachment and self-awareness about one's reactions. So does evaluating whether a story that does work is a good fit for the market at that time or not.
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 18
Replying to @ccfinlay
Then, when replying to submissions, if you're not using a form, it's important to be emotionally engaged again. To remember that the writer invested all that time and effort into writing the story, that they are making an effort to engage with a larger audience. To respect that.
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 18
Replying to @ccfinlay
We all have limits to our emotional reserves. I know a lot of editors use form letters for replies, and I think part of that is to preserve emotional energy for other things. I respect that too. And am frequently tempted by it!
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 18
Replying to @ccfinlay
There's a constant toggling between modes of engagement. This is especially true when editing a story. To do it right, you have to be emotionally engaged with the writing, no matter how many times you read and reread the story.
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 18
Replying to @ccfinlay
But to be helpful to the writer, you have to be analytically engaged, to toggle over to the other skill set and evaluate your emotional response, so that you can identify it properly for the writer and maybe offer some useful suggestions or tools for them to work with.
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 18
Replying to @ccfinlay
I think there's a danger for editors in becoming too engaged all the time -- for one thing, it can lead to burnout and not enough energy to take care of the other important people and things in your life.
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 18
Replying to @ccfinlay
But there's also a danger in becoming too detached and analytical, because you lose touch with the things that will inspire readers and break their hearts.
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 18
Replying to @ccfinlay
When you're too detached, you can become too susceptible to formula and familiar tropes. And you'll miss out on the unusual but really great stories that have a chance to be transformative.
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 18
Replying to @ccfinlay
So, like I said, I never hear other editors talk much about this. So maybe it's not editing in general. Maybe it's just me. But as I push through the F&SF submission queue, it's something I'm thinking about.
Reply Retweet Like
Emily McIntyre Jun 18
Another couple editors I’ve worked with who do this wonderfully well are at and
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 18
I love both those editors! And I've talked to them, just never about this. So maybe the problem is me...
Reply Retweet Like
BCS Online Magazine Jun 19
It's me too; I totally agree. Plus the investment, intellectual and emotional, when engaging in a rewrite request. Those for me are a much bigger investment than rejection or acceptance.
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 19
Rewrite requests have the biggest investments because the notes are the most complicated and there's the most at stake in terms of your relationship with the author and the author's own hopes and expectations for the story. I only tackle those when I have deep reserves.
Reply Retweet Like
BCS Online Magazine Jun 20
I tackle those often. Probably 2/3rds of the stories in BCS had some level of rewrite. Writers are patient w me (thank you!), and I love working w folks and stories, but for me it is exhausting & a lot of time. That stunned awe at the end of a great read is the payoff for me. :)
Reply Retweet Like
Emily McIntyre Jun 20
Rewrites with you Scott are an incredible experience. I remain painfully proud of each piece I’ve worked through with you. I remember being in awe that you caught a slight foreshadowing I’d done and assumed no one would notice
Reply Retweet Like
BCS Online Magazine Jun 20
:) Thank you so much for the kind words!! (Also, IMO "painfully proud" is a delightful turn of phrase. :) )
Reply Retweet Like
Emily McIntyre Jun 20
I get the same glow when I look at my child and my finished stories ha ha it hurt so good
Reply Retweet Like
Athena Andreadis, PhD Jun 19
Replying to @ccfinlay
I suspect editors don't talk of this as an apotropaic measure. It takes an almost-punitive fusion of focus & receptivity to evaluate a work properly once it's past the first gate; often more than one pass is required (1st time as reader, 2nd time as editor).
Reply Retweet Like
CC Finlay Jun 19
Replying to @AthenaHelivoy
Thank you for the word "apotropaic" -- I knew the concept, but I didn't know the label. I suspect you may be right.
Reply Retweet Like