this morning, my friend was asking me about editing. he’s a numbers a guy. a computer programmer, in fact. he often observes that he’s shit with words and that i’m shit with numbers.
recently i’ve been editing a book for someone, and it’s not a terribly good book. i was trying to explain to my friend what the challenge was, and why this job was wearing me down.
"imagine someone asked you to check their code for bugs," i told him. "but they’re pretty messy at coding, so there’s lots of bugs."
he nods. he’s following me.
"now imagine that the computer is crudded up with viruses and bloatware and that sort of thing. and then someone took a shit on the keyboard and smeared it on the screen. then, after that, they threw it out a window and it landed in a dumpster filled - for some odd reason - with barbed wire.
"so it’s basically your job to check that code for bugs, and to do so in a professional manner. i don’t know about programmers, but writers don’t like having their mistakes pointed out, so you have to be pretty delicate. you can’t say, for example, that there’s a virus on there. you can’t ask why the smeared the screen with shit, or why you lost two pints of blood trying to extricate the computer from a pile of barbed wire.
"after all, why would there be any barbed wire there in the first place?"
alas, people tend to go into computer after studying computing and practicing computer and developing some competence in computer. the same is not true of writing, normally. the vast majority of it is as the above image - ridiculous, absurd, and smeared with shit.
(i shall just point out here, for obvious reasons, that the book to which i’m referring will not be published by my company, Beatdom Books, but is rather a bit of freelance work.)