On the pish…or should that be lish?

I am killing time until a bottle of wine is cold enough to drink and now that I realise my life has boiled all the way down to waiting on inanimate objects for fulfilment, I am going to have a gin and tonic while I wait in a bid to wrest back a little control. Aaah…who’s your daddy now?

We have been looking at the editing process in the practical sessions of our Theory and Authorship class over the past three weeks. As a module, Theory and Authorship looks at the relationship between author, text and reader and as the title would suggest also has a theory aspect. So far, theoretically, we have read the Intentional Fallacy and the Affective Fallacy by WK Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley, The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes and this week Plato’s Pharmacy by Jacques Derrida.  Derrida is  slotted in for next week too.  Maybe now you understand why wine is very important.

I have found editing really interesting. We have an assignment due in next week to edit a short story of just over 3,000 and I got rather stymied almost at once; run aground on exactly where you draw the line between editing and rewriting.  What is acceptable editing and what is plain rude. And then of course there is the subjectivity problem. Not all editors are made the same. Thankfully we have been given a formula; a step by step process which has allowed me to distance myself from myself (using candles and alcohol) and invoke (using candles and alcohol) the practice of the craft to look at the text for the text.  It is a skill that needs honing but one I plan to and look forward to mastering.

We were given a really cool game in class based on Gordon Lish that involves one page from a published novel that we then ‘Lish’ which basically means we leave the first and last sentence and cut out all the guff in between. I (hanging head in ignorance and shame) had never heard of Gordon Lish or Raymond Carver but was amazed at the author/editor dynamics.  I had no idea an editor was so powerful and it has, once again, meant I have had to rethink my writing and my future as a writer. There is a cool article in the New Yorker (where else?) about the Carver/Lish relationship here, and one of Carver’s original short stories with the Lish editing here. Very interesting to see the difference. We discussed this in class and agreed that Lish is halfway evil and halfway a jolly good editor. I think that strikes the perfect life/work balance.

4 thoughts on “On the pish…or should that be lish?

    1. Ah! David Bishop. Molten evil in stylish shoes and Satan’s representative in the world of writing.

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