I ONCE HEARD bestselling Christian author Philip Yancey say that writers are control freaks.
I can’t speak for all writers. But I can speak for myself.
When it comes to my writing and the art research that goes into my illustrated books, I am a control freak.
The hardest thing I do is upload my files to the publisher.
That’s often because
- I have no idea who’s going to get my stuff
- and what they’re going to do to it.
Or worse, it’s because
- I do know who’s going to get my stuff
- I do know what they’ve done to it in the past
- and I’m terrified they’re going to do it again.
Having been an editor for over a decade before launching my freelance writing career, here’s what I think about editors:
They should be better writers than the writers they are editing. If they are not, all they can do is make a writer’s writing worse.
I’ve found most editors to be gracious, allowing me to say pretty much what I want to say, and in the voice I prefer: the way I talk.
Not all editors are that gracious.
In one of the first books I wrote, the editor took a whopping pile of my active sentences and turned them passive. That is so not good.
Active sentence: Moses carried the 10 Commandments down the mountain.
Passive sentence: The 10 Commandments were carried down the mountain by Moses.
Now tell me, which sentence has more juice?
The editor however argued that a passive sentence sounds more sophisticated and scholarly.
She was absolutely right.
A passive sentence does sound more sophisticated and scholarly because that’s how many sophisticated scholars write.
So boring that their own mothers don’t read what they write.
These are the kinds of battles that we control freaks fight almost every time we turn a book over to a publisher. Thankfully, in almost every case we are able to work out our differences and get something published that makes us both smile.
But there have been times I’ve wanted to throw a punch.
I know at least one editor who felt the same. Maybe two.
And all the Christian freelancers said, “Amen.”