Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back in Action

I've been silent recently because I was working on a project that emerged suddenly.

I do a little ghostwriting on the side, and one of my regular clients emailed me for a quick edit of his latest book manuscript. I had only a week to go through about 40,000 words. I edited, made my own additions, streamlined the layout and formatting, built a table of contents, and generally got the prose up to publishable quality.

As an editor, I find it difficult not to inject my own thinking into the text. Theoretically, I'm supposed to be non-interventionalist, which means not to futz too much with the prose. Just correct obvious errors and smooth out rough patches. These directives alone can keep me busy enough. My client loves to begin sentences with "and" and "but." He also switches from "you" to "we" perspectives constantly. He often relies on strings of cliches too. These areas take lots of work and attention. Nevertheless, several opportunities always arise where I need to re-phrase a statement or to add another phrase or clause for clarification. In these cases, it's my sensibility that becomes sutured into the text.

The person with the "pen" on the text always has a curious power, although it's certainly not an unlimited power. Heck, it's often not a lot of power. Yet, we can never be certain that our received texts are univocal. Indeed, I'd wager that very likely none of them are, and we're not even talking about texts in the Barthes-ian sense, texts as tissues of other texts.


theswain said...

This is more about your news and updates than the post. But congrats on the progress at WVU! So what's the diss? And what do you plan to do differently with Beowulf online?

Re: editing, I know exactly what you mean, always a tough thing not to inject oneself into someone else's text.

Jon Myerov said...

Thanks. When I last left the diss. - about 5 years ago - I was looking at editions of OE poetry through the lens of textuality. That term, "textuality," was and is a convoluted bugger. I liked how its murkiness allowed several different perspectives at once on the gaps, fills and prosthetics of scholarly editions.

I will probably return to the subject, but I've been involved in robotics for a few years now and would somehow like to bring this aspect into play. We'll see. I have much to do before I get back to writing. I have to re-learn German and get certified. Then I have to take my exams and pass.

For Beowulf, well, just have a look:

Input welcome.