“Don’t rewrite someone’s work how YOU would have written it. That isn’t editing. Editing is bringing out the best of the story in line with the author’s voice, tone and goal.” - Amanda Pillar
I have seen too many non-professional people who fancy themselves to be editors (and a couple of pro editors) fail at this very thing. Not to mention editors confusing ‘editing advice’ with ‘emotionally abusing a writer.’ If your editor - after you get back rewrites and notes - makes you feel like you want to write less, sweat bullets over the idea of writing, stress out about writing ‘right’ or feel like the process of creating is becoming only more and more painful over time, ditch them, and ditch them fast. Not everyone gets notes they like (that is the point of editing, after all), but you always have the right to reject anything that doesn’t click, and you should always walk away from a collaboration with an editor feeling stronger, not weaker.
I’m very fortunate that I got to interact with professional, lauded editors of great projects at university, and then later on in life as I pursued varied professional projects. All in all, I’ve probably met about 20-30 editors over the years, and I’ve learned much, including what a good editor won’t do to you or your work.
I’ve had the privilege to work with professional editors on different published works (from poetry, to short stories, and now onto novels - some award winning and nominated) and I know how this process is supposed to go. I’ve seen too many authors and authors-who-don’t-know-better get crushed by people who believe they know best for a story and really don’t.
Remember - You always have the right to ask for a new editor at a publishing house if your visions don’t mesh (and they won’t always). You always have the right to pull your work from an editor if they are destroying your work (it does happen, and I’ve recently seen one publisher in particular begin to fall apart because of this). A relationship with an editor should be collaborative. The editor needs to be consummately respectful of the author’s concept of style, execution. Ultimately an editor is there to assist a writer in the writer’s own work, not sneak their own voice and style into someone else’s work. The latter is not making a work stronger, but making it into something twisted. The true collaboration is when two people come together to make the original story shine in the way the author always intended it to, and the editor knows exactly what to bring to make that happen.
An editor who insists brutality is key is not a professional. They go against most codes of ethics in many editing organisations in the world. An editor who uses abusive language is not a professional. An editor who tells you ‘this is how real editing is’ when they aren’t a member of an Editing Society and do not have an Editing Degree and don’t have any published books behind them is grandstanding. They are also lying to you about what the editing industry is like. Don’t believe me? Ask an editor affiliated with a Society with multiple published books behind them. An editor who is proud of their ability to be brutal above and beyond respecting the author’s voice, is an editor who enjoys the feeling of being right (whether or not they are) above respecting your creative work and passion.
If you tried to write the equivalent of a rose quartz, and your editor insists you need to be writing the equivalent of a smokey quartz - do yourself a favour, get the fuck out.