On editing

From an oldie from Salon sent to me by Bob Clark:

The art of editing is running against the cultural tide. We are in an age of volume; editing is about refinement. It’s about getting deeper into a piece, its ideas, its structure, its language. It’s a handmade art, a craft. You don’t learn it overnight. Editing aims at making a piece more like a Stradivarius and less like a microchip. And as the media universe becomes larger and more filled with microchips, we need the violin makers.

So here’s to you, editors, whose names never appear on an article, who are unknown except to their peers and to the writers who owe you so much. Keep fitting those delicate pieces of wood together. Use the skill it took you years to acquire. Don’t give up and just slap the thing together. Make it light and tight and strong so that it sings. Someone is noticing. Someone is reading. Someone cares.

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