my editor, Miss Exie Shortbread

I like my editor so I wanted to say something nice about her even though it may embarrass her.

Exie is not her real name but she is from upstate New York anyway. She was poor and beautiful but did not marry money. She educated herself and got the hell away from upstate New York. She ended up in City because she was an adept editor and most editors are fools. Exie is a screaming left hand turn from a fool.

She threatened to quit her first job over a book. It was my book. It’s how we met. She had picked up my ’zine majenta. It was a graceful piece of trash that I’d been publishing in Albuquerque (’Burque to the home boys). She was intrigued by its combination of brutality and slick-ass highbrow sarcasm. She wrote to the press at its original address which was five years and three countries out of date. I happened to be in Singapore at the time and the letter took a year to get to me.

She said she would like to know what else the press had produced. I told her of its stable of writers, not even really including myself. She then described what she was in the market for and I realized she was after me. It was a shock. The most money I had ever made writing at one time was $100.

The $100 came from the time I wrote a tepid and somewhat regrettable piece of commercial nonsense for a publisher higher up on the food chain than myself. While writing my check he told me that I ought to take a writing course because I showed some promise. Well, sure I’d like to be a better writer and all, but what are you gonna do? You know. Classes? I mean, isn’t that somewhat extreme?

When a big city editor was interested in my writing I was in shock. I sent her some sample writing. She asked then for a complete manuscript from one of the samples. She got it.

A week later she called me and said she loved it. I asked her what that meant because I am made of jade. She said she would get it to press for me. I laughed out loud. I had to apologize for this many, many times. The manuscript that she liked already had 23 rejection letters, one from the publishing house employing her. She went to the managing editor with my manuscript and said, “I’d like to do this one.”

He said, “Fuck that.”

She said, “If this is the wrong book for you then I’m the wrong editor.” Just like Ayn’s editor did with The Fountainhead manuscript. I couldn’t believe it when she told me. Maybe she just made it up so I’d owe her but I don’t think she’d do that.

They didn’t want to lose her so my first book was published, I had to eat my words, and I forgot how sleazy that $100 check had made me feel.

I’m glad my editor is a woman. Women always seem to know just what I ought to be saying and what I ought to keep to myself. So they make fine editors. All TV and movie casting people are women. This has troubled me for some time.

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