It’s easy enough for a writer to ask that proverbial question all writers have to eventually ask. It’s a rite of passage almost, almost something good and positive, enough days, months, years lost toiling away at the craft (and make no mistake, it’s become a craft by now), you have to ask… why am I still writing? For those thousands of millions of writers who’ve put in the years without much of a return , there’s always the easy answer, the quick fix to see you through to another day. Heck, it’s cause you’re an artist in a sexy torrid love affair with the thing, the craft, as tragic as it is romantic.
Different for an editor, though. There is no easy answer, no quick fix. We’re all writers, but the writerly excuses don’t work here. We don’t work in a bubble, a cocoon, as the writer with a romanticized view of what it means to be a writer might. We won’t sacrifice our home life, our relationships, our real jobs, to get the thing done. Try as we might, we just can’t block out what’s going on around us to get through the subs, to see the next issue through to fruition. We’ll compromise, sacrifice, we stress, we lose it at times, miss a meal here and there, push other stuff aside, a strong sense of obligation our only driving force. But we never get lost in the thing, swept away by the notion that we are editors as if it’s an ideal, some higher sense of being. Doesn’t work that way. And the question we often ask ourselves, though similar to the writer’s in terms of the words we use, is not really the same at all. Ours is a serious question, literal. Why? Each and every time. Why? Why take on the stress and responsibility for the care of someone else’s hard work and dedication? Crazy, at the worst of times, when the kids need supper and there’s s back log of subs, or we’re in the grind and all my underwear are somewhere in that huge pile of laundry that’s peaked by the furnace room. Unlike the writer, but very much like the writer, our answer to that question begins at the slush pile. We read dead panned, like its a chore, and then bam. We get on a submission that completely changes the game. Kids ate yesterday, type of thing. I’m swept away into a world I’ve never seen, caring for people I’ve never met, my heart and soul telling me I’ve been here before. It’s an awakening, of sorts, split in two, the editor in me connecting to the writer at once, the reader I am like a child in wonder. Either way, I’m like a victim, what’s happening is happening to me as a hapless bystander who’s never written a word in his life before this, this soul-ass bared moment in time as if it was always meant to be, the words, my words, my life. It’s a love affair, torrid, sexy, life affirming.
September 30, 2015