and a brief anecdote: In college I roomed with this guy who was a music major and Russian language minor while I was an English major/creative writing type. He had loads of friends, and upon graduation, got a job through one of his social contacts (a lover actually who was working as an editor), an editorial position.
Me, knowing truly how little this guy knew or cared about texts, contemporary literature, English grammar and usage, etc. thought “Well, THAT won’t last.”
But lo and behold!–it turned out that the schmoozing and the shopping for clothes (he loved to wear nice clothes in college) and his fine social eye were perfect attributes for what he did. In the years since college, as I’ve published several books, I keep seeing his name in the acknowledgments of others’ books, some even of friends of mine, and I’m still mildly amazed. One author, a prominent baseball writer, raved about the editorial genius of this guy, which completely blew me away because:
I’m a total baseball junkie, and I have been since way before college, where
I was constantly trying to get my roommate to share my interest, or at least to tolerate it, in the hopes of getting him to let me play the World Series at least on the radio instead of Stockhausen or John Cage or some such shit, but
he proudly explained for me his utter contempt for the game, and for everyone who ever went to a baseball game. Cut to
Decades later, when this particular baseball writer (one of the few who’ve taught me something new about the game, a very complex, innovative, highly technical writer on baseball) is raving about my former roommate’s editorial brilliance.
You know this guy never learned anything about baseball, so he barely was able to parse this writer’s sentences, much less engage him on any sort of substantial level, and his (my ex-roommate’s) command of English was just average for a college student, nothing special at all (I knew literally hundreds of people in college who could write rings arund this guy), so how does he get to be a great editor?
I don’t know, but “editing” is about the least of it.