In his comedy, The Clouds, Aristophanes sends a young Athenian man to school at the Thinkery, which is run by Socrates. I wouldn’t even begin to compare myself to Socrates, but I have a pretty good idea what it’s like to live in a Thinkery. I live a wonderful life working and playing with words. I’m blessed to have edited more than 300 books, which—counting the people who have come back to me with their second or third or fourth project—means I’ve helped maybe a couple hundred people make their dreams of holding in their own hands a published book they wrote come true.
When I’m in editing mode I not only live in my own Thinkery and turn into a left-brain nerd, but I also get majorly into the books I’m working on. I find myself waking up at three in the morning making notes to myself. Send an email to Ricky about grand guignol. Ask Craig about the photo he took of the real ghost and which haunted hotel is which. Send notes to several authors that nowadays we use only one space after a period, not two (or three or more). Convince the detective story guy that the word is spelled “frantically,” not “franticly.” Send a smart-ass reply to Nat about hot dogs. (We’ve been having an ongoing debate about condiments and “naked dogs.”) Send a note to Ron explaining that if he “literally bombed his graduate students with questions,” then his classroom was probably flooded with blood and body parts. I’m also forever recommending interesting books to my authors, either for further research or because I just think they’ll enjoy them.
But why is it that the minute I lie down these ideas start popping into my head? Because bedtime has always been so wordily fertile, I’ve trained myself to remember most of the ideas that sleet through my head. If I forget one, then it probably wasn’t worth remembering. Or it’ll come back. You know what I need? An automatic link from my brain to my computer.
I make friends with nearly all my authors. Sometimes I don’t agree with what an author is writing. I once edited a Libertarian anti-university screed, and I’ve also edited Calvinist theology and a book about hunting. Nevertheless, I support his right to write his book. If you hire me as your editor, you can write just about any book you want to write, and I’ll help you write it more clearly in more accessible language and with proper logical or narrative flow.
More Than 300 Projects
I have, so far, edited more than 300 books and other projects. They’re mostly fiction and nonfiction written by authors who go to small, vanity, or on-demand presses. I’ve also edited screenplays, children’s books, academic discourse (textbooks and doctoral and master’s theses), blogs and website text, and even some poetry. But because someone once tried to edit one of my poems when she had no idea what it meant, I am extremely chary about editing other people’s poems. Usually I just correct spelling, maybe the scansion, too. Some of my authors have sent me signed copies of “our” books. I love to see those published books!