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an editor an editor my kingdom for an editor

Tis the season – of lunches and dinners and excess. My grinch is out again – though I love to see friends and be festive, still, I find the forced jollity of it all, the bloody fucking holly jolly music, consumers jammed into shops to buy stuff, and outside, more desperate people than I’ve ever seen. It’s just wrong.

However. Luckily there are two little boys who will love every bit of it, and I will love it with them.

It has been very cold but today was so mild, I was on the bike with my coat open. Went off to lunch downtown with the Word Sisters – a group of women in publishing – successful editors, agents, a publicist. I’m there to represent the desperate scrabbling writers. Much of the talk at lunch was about how much harder it is, year by year, to survive in this business, particularly as a writer – how now, even with the big publishing houses, writers sometimes have to pay for some of their own editing and publicity. Insane. Depressing. But my crepe was lovely and so was the company.

Yesterday, to the ROM with Suzette and Jessica to see the Dior exhibit and then to dinner at Planta, the trendy downtown restaurant featuring vegan food, and delicious it is too, including a very meaty mushroom burger. A great reunion with – not old friends, as someone said recently, but friends of long standing. Much, much to discuss with these dear women I have known since I was 17, in the corridors below Carleton University.

Sunday, to the play “Heisenberg” at CanStag, a terrific two-hander about a chance encounter between two strangers that turns into something more, something much more. A beautiful piece of theatre. And tonight, two more episodes of “The Crown” Season 2 with Wayson – utterly brilliant. So so so much to do in this town – it’s amazing I do any work at all. But occasionally I do. Yesterday I sent the manuscript to yet another publisher.

But there’s also reading, and I’ve been doing a lot of it, recently two memoirs from the library:
“Lights on, rats out” by Cree LeFavour, and “Priestdaddy,” by Patricia Lockwood, both on several best of the year lists, the latter on the NYT best 10 of the year. What do I know? I thought the first was unbearable, I had to skim through it – the author liked to burn herself with cigarettes and required years of therapy to stop doing it. The second, about the writer’s eccentric father, a crazy Catholic priest, was written in a gorgeous torrent of prose that sometimes carried me along and sometimes drowned me.

Here are two bits of her powerful writing, that almost go too far but I think do not:

I did not make it out, but this does. Art
goes outside, even if we don’t; it fills the whole air, though we cannot raise
our voices. This is the secret: when I encounter myself on the page, I am
shocked at how forceful I seem. On the page I am strong, because that is where
I put my strength. On the page I am everything that I am not, because that is
where I put myself. I am no longer whispering through the small skirted shape
of a keyhole: the door is knocked down and the roof is blown off and I am aimed
once more at the entire wide night.
To write about your mother and father is to
tell the story of your own close call, to count all the ways you never should
have existed. To write about home is to write about how you dropped from space,
dragging ellipses behind you like a comet, and how you entered your country and
state and city, and finally your four-cornered house, and finally your mother’s
body and finally your own. From the galaxy to the grain and back again. From
the fingerprint to the grand design. Despite all the conspiracies of the
universe, we are here; every moment we are here we arrive.

Pretty strong stuff, no? But here’s an example of what I feel is the overwrought, overwritten style that drives me crazy: 
The year has been long. I feel like a
single particle standing in the middle of my own ghost, I resemble a log of
haunted cookie dough, and I need to be cured of myself.

What? What does that mean? A log of haunted cookie dough? Who let her get away with that? Where are the editors?! I know some really good ones. Just ask and I’ll send you their coordinates.



2 Responses to “an editor an editor my kingdom for an editor”

  1. theresa says:

    It's ironic that the small publishers, the ones who don't get much public attention (reviews of their books in big papers, places on cultural shows on radio, etc.), are often the ones still committed to providing good editors, as much publicity as they can afford, and an inspiring amount of belief that these books deserve to be part of the literary landscape.

  2. beth says:

    Yes, it is ironic, Theresa. The god of the bottom line has devoured many in the arts.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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