My first editorial job was in my early 20s. I taught high school the year after I graduated from college, and the next year I managed the textbook department at the LSU Union bookstore. While at LSU, I also started writing little freelance articles for local publications, but I wanted to work in book publishing.
So I applied for a job with a small, local publishing company and was hired to be their Director of Editorial. (Say what?) I didn't know that stood for "whipping girl" for the editorial department. It wasn't a great job, but I didn't have a lot of options in my hometown.
I remember one day the owner of the company tore me to shreds (verbally) for using blue ink instead of black on the editorial schedule I gave him. We had not gone over the company's ink policy, but he wasn't really interested in that.
As I stood there listening to him insult me loudly, I did my little math problems in my head (that's a trick for killing the tears, girls). And when I was released, I held my breath all the way down the hall to the bathroom, which was blessedly empty, locked myself in a stall and bawled into a wad of toilet paper.
Man. I was so young.
Anyway, I didn't really know what I was doing when I started, but a few other employees--the senior editor and company VP in particular--were very kind to me. I was told later they all had bets on me not making it to the end of the month.
I learned fast as I usually do, and although there were times I didn't agree with what the owner wanted in our finished product, I knew who held the whip in that office.
A very young graphic designer was on my staff at one point, and one day I had to deliver the bad news to this person that the owner didn't care for how the pages looked, and s/he would have to change them all.
This designer proceeded to inform me that s/he was an artist and was hired for his/her artistic ability and had no intention of altering the pages in any way.
Needless to say, that person didn't last very long. But neither did I. Nine months later I'd landed a much happier job as an editor at LSU. But that's not the point of my post.
Before Christmas I had some posts about marketing and Twilight. I also reviewed a novel by Libba Bray. A few days later I read a review of a different Bray book, and the blogger made the note about how beautiful Bray's writing was, and how disappointed the blogger was that she didn't enjoy Bray's book more.
Currently I'm reading Shiver for the first time. I've noticed a few repetitive bits, there are several adverbs that probably could've been cut, and the dialogue at times tests the limits of believability... In other words, it's not perfectly written according to "The Rules" we hear constantly from the writing experts.
But I'm loving this book! Seriously. And unless it just completely falls apart, it's headed for my A pile.
Which brings me to my point. Is it more important to be an entertainer or an artist? Is it better to give the reader a great, difficult-to-put-down story or to follow The Rules of perfect writing?
I know. The answer is BOTH. But now I'm trying to think of who's done it--since I started paying attention, I mean. Is it possible to get so hung up on doing it "the right way" that you lose the Wow! in your storytelling?
My brain's just turning over these thoughts as I sit here watching it rain. Have a super weekend, reader friends. Til Monday~ <3