Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer and The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English, has written about his working relationship with his copyeditor in an encouraging article, "A Prayer of Thanks for a Guardian Angel," which appears in the August 30, 2010, Publishers Weekly.
Clark starts out with a heartwarming anecdote:
My eccentric love affair with copyeditors derives from a formative trauma I experienced when I was in grammar school in 1958. I was a Catholic school kid living on Long Island, and each day I would watch this cute and cool teenage girl strut home from her bus stop. I never learned her name, but her nickname was "Angel Face," a fitting title she had painted across the back of her brown leather jacket. My desire for this teen angel grew and grew until the day Mom pointed out that the girl of my dreams had misspelled her nickname. Instead of "Angel Face," she had marked "Angle (A-N-G-L-E) Face" on her jacket. I could never look at her the same way again.
Many authors--especially in this day of self-publishing, e-books, print-on-demand, and vanity publishing--either don't believe they need a copyeditor, don't understand what a good copyeditor can do for them, or simply don't care.
In his article, Mr. Clark notes, with just the right degree of self-deprecation, humility, and gratitude: "Writers cannot be trusted to heal themselves, so is there a copyeditor in the house?"
And just to show my appreciation for his sentiments and to show him some love back, I'll probably add Roy's books to my library.
(Photo by Kelley Benham French)