Interstital Moment:

TAK asked: “how did you go from being an editor to being a published author? Is it common for editors/people from the Other Side of Publishing to have their own work published (and are there any writers who also have jobs in publishing)? “

Well, TAK, I was a writer first and got into editing because I needed money to support my writing habit. But becoming an editor taught me a lot about writing as I had to begin to analyze what I was doing. I was not then (and not really a lot now) an analyzer but a more of an instinctive writer. But as an assistant editor and eventually editor in chief of my own line of books, I had to learn how to take a piece apart, discuss what worked and didn’t work, and help the author put it back together. It serves me well to this day, though I do self-editing as instinctively now as I do my writing.

The number of editors who write more than a single book is tiny. Usually an editor has little time to do his or her writing. The problem is that editing is not a leave-the-job-at-work kind of business. Good editors take manuscripts home, read on the train and plane, take them on vacation. Tbey are always reading. They are always thinking about someone else’s work before their own. And they are also always somewhat worried that they are going to unthinkingly borrow from someone else’s manuscript, which can be crippling.

A few editor/authors come to mind. Patricia Gauch just about gave up writing for the twenty-five years she was an editor. Arthur Levine and Kevin Lewis have done a little writing but not enough. Lauren Thompson writes a few books but might write more if she weren’t editing. Ann Beneduce didn’t start writing until she’d been retired for some time. Linda Zuckerman started writing after she was no longer an editor. Ditto James Giblin. Etc. Of the writing editors I know, Charlotte Zolotow managed to write the most at the same time she was editing, though poet Lilian Moore probably comes a close second. And then there are young editors, like Rotem Moskowitz at Scholastic, who write novelty books and branded books like Curious George spinoffs and work for hire books and anything else that comes down the pike.
I love working with editors who are also writers because I think they understand stuff that other editors don’t. But there is a danger, too. They sometimes want to help you a bit too much. They know how to write so they are more than ready to assist. The best author/editors are the ones who recognize this about themselves and are careful to ask questions, not rewrite the piece for you. I think my biggest failing as an editor was this desire to just do it for the writers and not wait for them to do it themselves!

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