A writer-editor-teacher’s quote of the week 170

On the relationship between editor and writer

I can’t think of many cases of writers I’ve worked with whose work I really loved and whose person I didn’t like at all. There are people who are more difficult than other people, and more needy. It’s a very emotional relationship. There’s a transference that occurs as in psychoanalysis. The editor represents many things, and different things to every writer. It’s a financial relationship. It’s an approval relationship. It’s a technical relationship. It can be a close one or it can not. Some writers don’t want to be social with their editors. Others need to talk to them constantly. And if you would let them, would like to read to you what they’ve written that day over the telephone. Not for me. So your job, being a service job, is to supply the writer with whatever you intuit he or she requires and needs and can make the most of.

– from “He’s edited Caro, le Carré and ‘Catch-22,’ but doesn’t mind if you don’t know his name,” an interview with editor Robert Gottlieb by NPR’s Terry Gross, which appeared on “Fresh Air,” January 3, 2023


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