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Editor's Notes #66, Editor: Masseuse or CIA Agent
January 31, 2009

She uses editorial services like she's going to the spa,
not like she's going into the torture chamber.

--Mary Schendlinger

In this issue:

1. Editor: Masseuse or CIA Agent
2. Tickled My Funnybone
3. Interesting Web Site

1. Editor: Masseuse or CIA Agent
Usually I create a topic for Editor's Notes and then go hunting for an opening quote. I've had the quote above on hold for several months just waiting for the time to use it.

I am often gratified by comments from my clients either after we are finished a project or after the sample edit. I open my email and read, "I can't believe how much you've helped my writing! I thought this would be like my high school English exam. Instead you've helped me take my writing to a much higher level."

One piece of me beams when I get the message. Then I think, "What did you expect? Did you really think I would torture you, put you down, and banish you to a dark cave to write lines?"

And to my chagrin, I realize that these poor writers have come to me in so much fear and trembling that a simple straightforward comment comes as a huge relief. You see, I don't often think that part of my job is supporting a writer's psyche, even though it clearly is. I always think about the writing and what will make it better. I give an honest appraisal of the writing and its effectiveness. I help the writer to make the writing better.

This winter I escaped my overwhelming life and spent time at a hot spring resort. I even treated myself to a massage. I went for the deep tissue massage. I have no idea how that young woman managed to apply so much pressure -- frankly painful pressure that tempted me to yelp. She told me I could tell her to stop at any point, and if I had feared for my well-being, I would have. But I managed to tough it out through the hard bits in the knowledge that something good was happening at a deep level.

I even left a tip for the masseuse.

In recent times we've heard awful stories of how the CIA and other agencies have used torture.

What's the difference between a deep tissue massage and torture? One difference is the intent. The masseuse intends healing. The torturer wants to cause maximum pain for his or her own benefit.

Another difference is the issue of power. The masseuse will stop when asked. The torturer is the one calling the shots.

As an editor, I tell you only what I believe will help your writing, even if the things I say might cause momentary discomfort. And as the writer, you retain the power. The writing is always yours. You can completely ignore whatever I say. I have no power over you to do anything you don't agree with.

Being edited is not torture. It's more like a deep tissue massage. When it's time to take your writing to the spa, you can have the trial run of a sample edit. Learn more at


2. Tickled My Funnybone
“Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant”


3. Interesting Web site


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