A Note a Writer Might Send an Editor Who Does Too Much Editing

The problem of the editor who is also a writer is considerable, as against that of the nonwriting or illiterate editor, such as H.W.R. [Harold W. Ross, editor of the New Yorker].

Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counseling rather than a collaborative task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, “How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?” and avoid “How can I show him how I would write it if it were my piece?”

—From the book Collecting Himself: James Thurber on Writing and Writers, Humor and Himself, published by Harper & Row.


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