Thursday, March 17, 2016

Millions of beautiful words

I'd been copyediting for a few years when I landed a dream job, at a very hip ad agency. Designers and copywriters were clamoring to work there. I didn't know anything about advertising (this is well before Mad Men came to tv), but I did know a little something about editing, about publishing, and about how language works.

What's nice about working for an agency is the variety: print ads to websites to custom reports, one-offs and multi-phase campaigns, across all media. This job had me fixing grammar, checking proofs, and touring print facilities, but also acting as sounding board for creative. Editing as end-to-end quality control.

But the best thing about that job was my boss, my mentor, from whom I learned the value of a holistic approach to editing. Editing is less about spelling, grammar, and punctuation than it is about listening, hand-holding, and ego-stroking.

Early on, she loaned me her copy of Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, by A Scott Berg — a biography of he who edited the greats: Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Wolfe. I got myself my own copy shortly thereafter. Every editor should read it.

Now it's been adapted for film.

Genius opens June 16th, and I'll be watching it. It looks like it takes quite the turn for the melodramatic, but hey, that's life, I'm living it.

Thanks, Edie, for everything.


Stefanie said...

A movie to look forward to that has nothing to do with superheroes! :)

Susan Bybee said...

I must MUST see this movie. If I have to drive 100 miles, I will see it.
LOVED the book. A. Scott Berg seems to have taken his subject's tips about writing to heart.