Writer vs. Editor (it’s war)

The Guardian online has an awesome post which excerpts a recent letter from Giles Coren to the Times Magazine editorial board. For anyone outside the UK Giles Coren is a long running restaurant reviewer for the Times and appears often on Gordon Ramsey shows (including “the F Word” which has been running on BBC America recently). He’s an immediately likable guy, you get a sense he talks straight and doesn’t try to lord or act better than anyone, he just tells it as it is. Which is one of the reasons I love this letter even more.

I wrote: “I can’t think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for a nosh.”

It appeared as: “I can’t think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for nosh.”

…This is someone thinking “I’ll just remove this indefinite article because Coren is an illiterate cunt and i know best”. Well, you fucking don’t…

…the joke is gone. I only wrote that sodding paragraph to make that joke. And you’ve fucking stripped it out…

…I mean, fucking christ, don’t you read the copy?…

You must read the whole thing. This is a priceless example of how situations like the editorial process can fail so wonderfully. You can apply this outburst to so many situations.

I can apply it to many professional situations I’ve been in. It’s those times were as the more “junior” person in the process, the people who are more “senior” decide to make changes for whatever reason they deem - they might think they know better, they might just be making their mark, they might just not know what they are doing - but they still make that change and then work you’ve done ends up looking bad, and in turn so do you. (I should point out I very rarely have this situation at my current work, the team here has great respect for people being experts in what they do, and they don’t mess about with others areas of expertize).

Many people as Giles notes, probably don’t care in these situations, I did my job who cares how it looks. But I like Giles, I’d hope I’m like Giles. If I work on something at any level, and somehow the end product sucks I will care deeply about that, and will often hunt down the person that tweaked with my contribution.

When it comes to coding I love versioning systems, Subversions “blame” feature is wonderful. I’ll find out who that person was that screwed with that one line of code that ruined the UI I worked so hard to make and I’ll find that person and ask them “why?”.

Admittedly it might not make me the most popular person in line management situations, but if you have a good reason for the change that’s great, I’m always keen to learn.


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