Why Editing Can Ruin (or Save) a Romance

Writers are world-renowned for their romantic whims and emotional dramatics, but editors are lovers too. Though we may grapple with the muses far less often or simply be saner than our creative counterparts, our craft can just as easily be the downfall (or the saving grace) of our romantic relationships.

How Editing Ruins Romance

Charcoal script "Editors are sexy" on wallBesides the fact that editing is far less romantically appealing than writing, there are other editorial character traits that can easily foil a relationship with a non-editing significant other:

  • Editors are trained to nit pick. Our job is to find every single problem in the copy set before us. We start out assuming errors exist, and it’s our job to find (and correct) them. We’re well intentioned in our pursuit (we want the best possible outcome), but when applied to a partner, our tendencies create frustration, dissatisfaction and feelings of inadequacy.
  • Editors strive for consistency. We do things by the book and sometimes even write the rules ourselves. It’s our job to make sure that copy fits, to the letter, a specific set of guidelines and expectations—the kind of standards you simply can’t apply to human beings themselves.
  • Editors are often better tellers than doers. While editors should also be writers in order to truly appreciate the full creative process, the fact is we’re simply better at editing than writing; we’re better at giving direction than executing it. A healthy romantic relationship, on the other hand, is a balance of discussion and implementation from both people.

How Editing Saves Romance

Though editing can be a murderer of love, good editors have another set of traits that just might save relationships from the clutches of constant criticism:

  • Editors can see potential. We buy into a writer as a creator, not necessarily based on his first creation. We understand that imperfection doesn’t mean unworthiness and that sometimes promising spirit, more than precise execution, should be an initial point of focus.
  • Editors appreciate the role of emotion in communication. When communicating what seems like purely factual information, it’s important to take feelings into consideration in both writing and non-writing relationships. There may be major plot problems in your author’s novel, but you consider the best way to communicate this because how the writer responds to your comments shapes the progress of the work, for better or worse.
  • Editors understand loyalty in the midst of difficulty. We come to our author relationships with the understanding that at some point there will probably be a melt down or at least some whining. Maybe they’ll yell at us or simply completely dismiss what we think is relevant guidance. We accept this and honor a commitment to the creative relationship.

Anyone who cares about their profession at all sees elements of their work habits creep into their relationships. Fortunately for editors (and those who love them), we’re not afraid to make revisions as necessary.