This may sound like mansplaining, but it isn’t. I’m trying to correct some misconceptions that many people carry with them these days. And perhaps upset an applecart or two. Hopefully NOT cause more anxiety... All writers have anxieties, and ALL writers make mistakes. That’s why there are editors.

Some pubs demand that all work submitted be perfect and will reject work that isn’t. Fine. But what about the pubs who say this then publish work with substantial imperfections anyway? And why? Because the editors cannot or will not perform their primary function.

Is this the fault of the writer? Of course not.

I’ve been an editor in some capacity for 55 years. (Believe it or not, this has never turned ME into a perfect writer, BTW.) The primary function of an editor, particularly one who has not established a long and comfortable working relationship with a writer, is to help the reader better understand what the writer is saying. The mirror to that, of course, is helping the writer to communicate with the reader. Beyond that, say if the editor has an employer in addition to the writer, is to work towards accommodating that employer’s requirements.

I’ve had editors who did not know me from a scratch on their desks tell me how to write. This is not unusual but also not appropriate. Others have told me my work is not for them, flat out, with no explanation, and this is utterly appropriate. There are rules to this relationship as there are rules to nearly everything.

But the primary rule, that primary function, remains the same. And either the editor performs that function or doesn’t. If the editor doesn’t, everyone involved pays the price. Too often in certain places people are paying the price.

And good editing often has little to nothing to do with voice. If it did, the piece would be rejected out of hand.

Possessor of Paul Newman eyes. Author of many things straightforward and strange. Some of them appear here. “Women zai shuo ba” as the Mandarin say. Born 2016.

Possessor of Paul Newman eyes. Author of many things straightforward and strange. Some of them appear here. “Women zai shuo ba” as the Mandarin say. Born 2016.