Friday, December 8, 2006

The Dao of Maxwell Perkins

Tonight I'm sitting late on campus trying to convince myself to write a paper about my editing philosophy.
This issue is this, how do I write philosophically or otherwise about editing?
Things I've come up with so far: I love love love and adore talking people through their ideas. My idea of a perfect relationship revolves around some sweatered someone calling me up at 2:14 in the afternoon and saying "Kjerstin, I noticed a tree that was leaning over the street as I was walking back from lunch and it started me thinking..." and, you know, we'd talk for a fiery fifteen minutes about how the angle of the branches is a symbol of the fall and related to whichever novel is lying dog-eared on the bedside table. I get this quirky fix off ideas. Love them. Editing is fabulous in that sense because you're paid to make sure someone's ideas fit. That means you have to talk through them and explore them and when it works, oh man, you hit this harmony and the overtones go wild and my heart starts singing in time.
Also, I think I have a pretty good idea of where the line between drawing someone out and baiting them is. I hate crossing that line. It feels like eating too much fudge or something and your breath is all musty with chocolate and you feel like ralphing. This is a concern, though, because as much as I love the flow of ideas and other people's ideas, I really like mine too.
Then I want to talk about the whole copyediting situation. I'm not a copyeditor. (Like, is copyeditor an open or closed compound? Should I hyphenate it? I'm not sure. I am fairly certain, however, that I don't care. Also that it's not worth it to look it up. Not a copyeditor.) (Spellcheck says copy editor.) But copyediting is super important: a) someone has to do it, you don't want to look like an idiot, b) having to read hundreds of pages straight out of the Chicago Manual of Style has really polished up my writing style, and c) how much confidence can an editor inspire if her answer to "should this be a semicolon?" is a bewildered shrug?
Other issues play into the writer's block. First, my teacher is an enigma. (He is a copyeditor, and as different from me as night from day.) I don't know how to write for this man and am sure that he'll be disappointed in my results. Second, it's 10:15 on a Friday night and I'm sitting alone on campus. Yeah, I feel nothing like an artistic genius capable of pumping out a couple of thousand words of shining prose. (On editing, for an assignment. My complaining about this paper while writing precisely what I mean to say is either really useful or completely asinine. I haven't decided which.) Third, more than being alone, I was hit about an hour ago by the melancholy that comes from watching the online/offline bubbles on Gmail blink like Christmas lights. "Oh Amanda's on!" and "Looks like Erin went out for the night." Who does this? I feel like a complete voyeur and it's really getting me down. Fourth, and I will complain about this regularly, I'm tired. It's the end of the semester and I've pushed myself really hard and maybe have forgotten (did I ever know?) how to apply myself and I'm tired. I don't want to write a paper. I don't want to make something up or think of a creative and brilliant angle to "Kjerstin's Philosophy of Editing." Tired.
Maybe the juices will flow. Maybe I'll head home and see if I can get my wireless to work there too. ke

5 comments:

Katherine said...

Um, I definitely missed the President Baby conversation--you'll have to fill me in...

Anyhow, nice to see you in the blog world. I'll look forward to many a (pseudo?)intelligent, poetic, and repressed post. (Can a blog post be repressed? That's not quite what I meant, but I sort of like the idea.)

Katherine said...

You can't start a blog then stop updating after two posts...

Liz Muir said...

I have to agree with Katherine. It would be tragic for me to have found your blog only for it to go defunct. Then again, Katherine had no right to talk--she can go for months at a time without updates . . . .

JKC said...

Oh, Kjerstin, some say that this blog is dead, and that it stinketh, but to me it doth not stink.

Too bad for me to find it too late if it really is dead. But in either case, send me an email or something. We should chat. You're in sore need (along with most of my Provo friends) of a update on Jared's life. It's sad how Law School can destroy already fragile (because of distance, time, etc.) friendships.

Day said...

this is a really interesting essay.