Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to school, back to school... prove my clients that I ain't no fool...

Apologies for the lack of updates: in addition to my usual and unusual work, I started my certificate program a couple of weeks ago. Suddenly my reading material has become fairly limited in scope...

34. The Subversive Copyeditor by Carol Fisher Saller

The About: Inspired by questions sent to her about editing at Chicago Manual of Style, Saller wrote a book that addresses the most burning questions she receives from the point of view on how to do a good job as an editor. Sections include how to cover your tail but also how to own up to mistakes, how to build a good relationship with an author and how to recognize your skills and short comings.

Thoughts: Let me start by saying that this was not required reading for the class. I just happened upon it in the book store, and it looked interesting so I grabbed it. I'm glad I did, because for such a tiny book it's extremely valuable.

This Ms Manners for editors is about good business practices. Saller employs humor in her writing--and tells us why it's important in client-editor relationships. She also gives editors a talking-to when it's needed: stop making excuses for not replying to an email, stop trying to lay the blame somewhere else, grit your teeth and smile although you want to burn the manuscript.

The underlying and painfully true theme is that editing a manuscript is not about the editor; it's about the author and ultimately about the reader. The editor is there just to work as a conduit in making the reader's experience as rewarding as possible. This sometimes means throwing grammar books out the window and going with gut feeling, or giving in to the author's odd spelling preferences. Editors are not in it for the glory, but Saller does remind authors that it wouldn't hurt them to thank also their editors publicly once in a while...

Even if you're not planning on being an editor, I'd still recommend this book because it gives great (and fun!) insight to the world of publishing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Just... bizarre

33. Enon opetukset by Petri Tamminen ("My uncle's teachings")

The About: Jussi is a 12-year-old who has a good relationship with his uncle, who is a mere 10 years older than the boy. What is it about this uncle that makes him such a champion in life? He always has the answers. As Jussi goes from being in his twenties to a divorcee in the late 30s, he's still searching for the answer as he still cautiously looks up to his uncle.

Thoughts: What a strange book. On the one hand, it's trying to be very, very deep with uncle's drunken philosophies and Jussi struggling with his own depression, but then on the other I felt like I only had a chance to skim the surface of these life-altering events and thoughts while bouncing from one drunken event to another. Jussi thinks he is a loser when actually he's just a depressed, middle-class man who is moderately successful. He looks up to his uncle who seems to have a better grasp of life than Jussi does, although he's a complete drunkard, a flake and a womanizer who always gets burned. At first, it seems like the story is idolizing a certain aloofness in life style and not caring about what others think--because that's what the uncle espouses. But maybe it's just an illusion, and as a reader I'm only seeing through Jussi's eyes, which are veiled by depression and feelings of failure. Jussi actually has a better handle on life than his uncle, but his uncle is just much better at bullshitting than Jussi is, and that's why he has become the guru of the family. The older Jussi gets, the more he begins to see flaws in his uncle.

Still. A strange book.