Although I’ve written professionally for a few years, it’s editing that is my true love. It’s impossible for me to figure how much my experiences writing books, blogs and magazine articles have influenced my editing work, or how my fairly natural inclination to edit has affected my writing. There aren’t too many editors in the world relative to the number of writers and designers (I wonder how the ratio of yarn-related editors to designers compares to that of fiction and non-fiction editors to writers), and I thought it might be interesting (at least to me) to explore this world a little. I plan to write several posts about this; I’ve even created a new category for this topic. If you have questions you’d like me to answer or topics you’d like to raise for discussion or consideration, leave a comment.
One of the things I love about being an editor is that editing involves having the highest-level perspective on a creative project. In regards to the magazine, that means I get to craft a vision for the entirety of the publication—for each individual issue, and for how those issues combine into a whole—and then make it happen. I won’t reveal anything I haven’t said before by summing up my goal: To show crochet at its best with stylish and clever designs that highlight superb application of technique, with complimentary editorial that fosters knowledge of and pride in craft. I assess every design and article submission I receive with that goal in mind, and I have very high standards.
That said, editing is not a me show. At the highest level, it’s a concert; at the lowest level it’s a collaboration. It’s this collaboration that is one of the most rewarding and exciting aspects of my job. Every issue of the magazine is composed of the work of a couple dozen contributors, each of whom has her own piece to say, her own style to establish, her own creative expression. My job as editor is to work with contributors to ensure their design is the best it can be (oh, yes, that is subjective to an extent*) while simultaneously complimenting the rest of the magazine’s content in order to achieve the higher-level goals. Rarely if ever do I say to a designer, “change this and that.” It’s not my role nor my goal to run roughshod over the work of others. That said, I do often raise concerns about one or more aspects of a design, and I expect to work with the designer to ensure those concerns are addressed. I also sometimes ask a designer if they’d mind tweaking one or more aspects of a design in a specific manner either because I think it might improve it or so that it will fit better into a theme I’m constructing. I’m very careful not to bulldoze a designer’s vision, though; if the changes I want to make result in a designer feeling her work is denigrated, I’ve failed.
I can’t stress the importance of this collaborative relationship enough. Crochet design for publication does not involve fine art. It is a business, and as editor I am charged with making a magazine that will sell. I’ve been reading John Scalzi‘s book on writing (You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop). The book had a limited print run, but if you’re in any way interested in professional writing or crochet design (for, really, most things to be said about writing for pay can be applied to designing crochet or knitwear for pay), try to find a copy. Scalzi’s view is solidly planted on the pragmatic end of the pragmatic-romantic spectrum. And, especially for folks new to the publishing scene, it can be very, very good—and productive—to focus on pragmatism over romanticism. I’ll write more on this continuum another time.
*A bit more on the subjectivity of design quality. Taste is very subjective, as is style. But to an extent, quality can be measured objectively. A design submission that proposes a drop-shoulder, box-shaped sweater in single crochet made from chunky yarn with a 4.0 mm hook I consider to be of poor quality, and here’s why: The end result is an undesirable garment, no matter how you look at it. And, specific to my own editorial goals, this is a design that contradicts my commitment to make sure every design I buy involves a good match of yarn, hook, and stitch pattern. I would not contact the designer of this hypothetical submission to try to sculpt the submission into an acceptable one because too many things would need to be changed, to the extent that it would end up more my design than hers. And that is very much not the goal.
Ah, well. It’s a sunny Sunday morning, and I’m not sure I was as clear and concise about editorial vision as I could be. Did I leave things out? Poke holes, gentle readers. Poke holes.