I’ve been in head-butting situations with editors as a writer.
In one case, I was asked to withdraw a story because I wouldn’t make the requested change. I explained that it would change the whole meaning of the story. She wanted to change the whole meaning of the story. I couldn’t change it. She couldn’t publish it.
In another case, the editor wanted me to make many changes to a manuscript I’d already worked over until I worked the life out of it, and didn’t get it revived until I had put in everything she wanted out. That piece was withdrawn, too.
We made our points courteously and parted on good terms. I wouldn’t hesitate to submit something else to either of them, and I believe they would consider my submissions with only the slightest hesitation.
If they did hesitate, I couldn’t blame them; now that I’m an editor, I know how much time and thought are put into those suggested edits, and I wouldn’t relish spending that time only to have my suggestions rejected.
More often than not, though, I’ve taken an editor’s suggested changes without demur. Sometimes, I was embarrassed that I hadn’t caught what they did; sometimes, I agreed with the suggestion wholeheartedly; sometimes, I didn’t care one way or the other and so agreed. Sometimes, I did not agree, but didn’t feel the piece was compromised by the change.
When I did not want the change, I’ve found every editor willing to discuss the disagreement. Usually, one of us convinced the other or one of us conceded, still unconvinced but willing to grit teeth and proceed. Occasionally, as noted, the piece was released to me unchanged and unpublished.
The thing to remember, on either side of the editor’s desk, is the work and good will that goes into creating and shaping work for a market. We all have our war stories about impossible editors and impossible authors, but most editors and authors, though on opposite sides of the desk, are on the same side of the effort: the effort of making a piece the best it can be and giving it the best chance it can have of reaching the people it would benefit.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write about two people butting heads.
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