I’ve just had another experience with bad editing. I say “another” because this is a recurring theme for me, working as a freelancer. Clients don’t always have a good regular editor. Sometimes they’re trying someone new and inexperienced, and I end up dealing with the results.
Responding to bad editing is tricky. As a writer, I know that I’m going to make mistakes and get things wrong. Sometimes an edit I don’t like will be the right thing. So it’s only when the mistakes keep piling up, when the misplaced commas and unnecessary changes litter the page, that I let myself believe that I’m right and the editor is wrong.
Dealing with this can be tricky. Sometimes it’s easy to explain why an edit doesn’t seem right to me. Sometimes it’s more nebulous. I’ve lost hours to figuring out what’s wrong with edits and searching for the words to explain it. Because if I’m going to disagree with an editor then I need to be clear on why. I need them to understand my perspectives if we’re to debate a point of language. And I need the client to understand my misgivings if I’m going to suggest that they find a better editor.
It’s frustrating. It’s awkward. It can undermine my faith in myself, as I face changes that don’t fit my idea of good writing, and I wonder which of us is mistaken. But dealing with bad editing is part of being a writer. It makes good editors into prizes worth their weight in gold.