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Backstory: Writers and editors

(Ed. note: how about editors and writers)

I can't tell you how often people tell me that what they really want to do in life is be a writer.

My response? "Why?"

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"Oh," they say with gusto, "I would love to tell the world what I am thinking. When you are a writer you have such creative control. No one tells you what you can say. The page is your canvas of free thought and expression."

A blank stare from me.

"Free thought and expression?" Do I let them down gently or do I just burst out laughing?

(Ed. note: this seems a bit sarcastic early on. suggest you change this line to something more whimsical and less stereotypically hard-bitten writerish.)

Ahhhh the idealism of the unpublished...

(Ed. note: better, but make it shorter. we don't have space.)

Ahhh... idealism.

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(Ed. note: shorter.)

Ah...

(Ed. note: perfect.)

We writers, while getting the credit on the page, have to deal with a group of folks called editors. Editors are the threshold guardians of the printed word. Their job is to take a writer's vision and bluntly tell him that it's not clear and that he must state it in half the space.

(Ed. note: be careful, laptop jockey, this piece could be dropped...)

Editors are the heroes of the printed word, the kings of the First Amendment.

(Ed. note: well... a bit flashy but we don't want to get in the writer's way. keep this line.)

They can also be impossible, short sighted, and cruel....

(Ed. note: three of us think these are still compliments, two are unsure.)

... And, of course, clueless.

(Ed. note: it's almost unanimous that this is NOT the compliment section.)

Many times a writer looks at his finished work with sadness. He thinks of how much better it could have been had he been allowed to keep certain lofty and majestic lines.

(Ed. note: you mean the lines we put up on the dartboard at the office?)

Of course, editors look at the piece and think how they saved it from certain doom and how the writer gets letters of praise while the editors get letters of complaint. When it's great, readers say, "Who wrote that?" When it stinks, they say, "Where were the editors?"

(Ed. note: I think this piece might be one of the stinkers, but let's give this guy enough rope to hang himself. writers! a bunch of self-serving egomaniacs! if I had a dollar for every writer that whined to me about an edit...)

Writer's note: Excuse me, have you just hijacked my piece?

(Ed. note: sorry, go on ... grammarless twit.)

You see? Editors are jealous little wannabe writers that punish us due to their frustrated lot in life!

(Ed. note: ohhh, that's rich. editors are the frustrated ones? listen, my pen-pushing little Marquis de Sade, if it weren't for me you'd be a long-winded, punctuation-deprived, clarity-starved hack. thanks to me, you're just a hack.)

You have hijacked this piece! But should I expect anything less? All pieces have to be filtered through you. Nothing gets to be put in as is. I can just imagine you helping Lincoln with the Gettysburg address...

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation ... (writer imitation of Ed/ note: Abe, could we just say 87 years ago - we're confused!)

(Ed. note: hey, writer-boy, your word count just hit 650. bring it to a close.)

Section omitted - lawsuit pending.

Control freak.

(Ed. note: hack. but good piece, we'll use it, after editing.)

Peter Crabbe is a Los Angeles-based comedy writer.


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