Editing. A chipper word that's pleasant sounding enough, isn't it? An activity that most laypeople believe could be scheduled in between ice cream and foot rubs on a nice Sunday afternoon. But I've seen grown novelists cry over it, working relationships go into the toilet and editors turn dead-eyed after dealing with yet one more unhinged author a little too sure of his own genius. There is also a downside to it.
Editing works and there's no such thing as a piece of writing that can't benefit from it. There's a downside because editing, and what constitutes a good edit, is woefully subjective.
That these discrepancies could also be entertaining is the reason Toronto's Scream Literary Festival is turning the act of editing into a game show. On Saturday, July 4, those in Toronto can watch several editors, including Stuart Ross and Alana Wilcox, edit the same piece of prose by an anonymous and, as we are told, well regarded author in front of an live audience. Edits will be compared. An identity will be revealed and hopefully feelings will be hurt just enough for it to be funny, but not so much for the scars to be permanent.
For those outside of Toronto who would like to cheer on the entombment of the last vestiges of stage-shy "publishing 1.0" you will have to wait several months for my own 15 minutes of ignominy. That's when I, and the publisher of my Spring 2010 short fiction collection, turn the process of editing and preparing my book for publication into a web realty show tentatively titled Difficult Author Island. Details are still being sussed out but we are looking for three candidates willing to compete for an editorial internship and of course, the honour of editing myself in front of the camera this October. Yes, you keeners raising your hands wildly can contact me now for details.
Outside of the cheeky title, am I truly a difficult author? Well, I don't think so. But then again, my publisher didn't argue otherwise when I pitched the concept.