And that It is write. I can’t help myself – I am driven – to write.
I am reminded of this – not that I need any reminding – when I go along to possibly my first (there may have been one other years and years ago) OPUS event. This month its title is rather grandly, Collaborating with Genius: the author and editor at work, and in a hastilly arranged larger venue, St Aldates Church in Oxford is packed full of publishing folk from in and around Oxford. The two giants of children’s publishing talking tonight were author Philip Pullman and his editor of it seems 20 years, David Fickling. As the Opus representive said, if only they could get this many along to support their seminars on copyright…!!
The big rivals of the area were represented in number, with the Blackwell contingent rubbing shoulders with the likes of OUP, jostling postion with Taylor & Francis and squaring up to Elsevier. With so many people there, I was a little relieved, when I discovered that Louise and Mel from team were going along too, so we arranged to meet up – safety in numbers and all.
Our chair for the evening got the evening off to a start from trying to discern from the speakers the nature of the relationship between author and editor; Philip was not backward in coming forward about how David protects him from the profit driven machinations of the corporate publishing house, and is invaluable at giving criticism and praise in the correct measure (a teaspoon versus a skip respectively…), whilst David was, if anything, overly modest – insistent that the old stereotype that the author does nothing is actually quite true.
The role of the editor is, its true, not to judge a book, but if taken by it, if enthused by it that they can see, yes, this is something people will break down doors to read, then it is then there job to reflect back on the author with questions: did you mean me feel this way here, or to home in on areas that are weak and might cause problems. More likely than not they are the same areas that the author themselves know are problem areas.
It was an interesting talk, and had some interesting questions afterwards, even if the lady who broke the rules and managed to ask two of her three questions (instead of the allowed one) didn’t have the visible link between the questions to make them one that she said they did; and the shirt and tied man from Elsevier was the one to ask about money (booo, hiss…!!!), only to have the subject of money knocked firmly back into place (as irrelevant) by both Philip and David… *grins*