Sunday, June 20, 2010

Give and Take with an Editor

Kansas City Voices, an annual, last week chose a poem of mine for its 2010 edition, but the judge (his assistant called him "the poetry editor of the Kansas City Star") had suggested some changes in it. Open to suggestions? I always am; that's the nature of our business; plus, I had submitted that work in March and have since revised it, so I knew it needed revision. The assistant e-mailed me the judge's version of the poem. Golly.

Knowing that editors are not writers' enemies but their best friends, I gave the suggestions their due. About half of them would not harm the poem; about a quarter of them would help.

I printed out "their" preferred version and came up with my "corrected corrected" version. Naturally they were on deadline, so the assistant and I then worked by phone to reach a meeting of minds. I had cut out an image she liked. I explained how it was "over the top," and she suddenly saw that and agreed. I had deleted another line she said she hated to lose, so I let it back in. This mutual tweaking took about twenty minutes.

The result: The poem is better than when I sent it, and we are now both satisfied. How did that happen? Respectful. Calm. Informed. Orderly.

1 comment:

  1. This is a timely one for me, as I am striving to be respectfully firm in everything that's important to me. It's been a hard lesson!