A sticky wicket

Editors have the same problem a lot of service providers have. Hairstylists, for example, can’t tell a person that her hairstyle makes her look (contrary to her apparent belief) like an aging floozy who needs to rethink that big ’80s mall hair. Even if it is painfully obvious. And, by the way, stop with the leggings and shoulder pads already.

Occasionally, if I point out a typo on someone’s webpage, they’ll email me and thank me. But I would never (and believe me, I have been tempted many times) email a writer and say, “Listen, friend, this copy is redundant, murky, and approaching incomprehensible. May I offer my editing services?” It’s the literary equivalent of an intervention, and like those, chances are it would not be well received. That’s not surprising; it’s a sticky situation.

So I must wait, like a spider in her web, for writers to come to me. And when they do, I always congratulate them, on two counts. First, that they have had the stamina and determination to write a whole book or dissertation or whatever it may be, and second, for having the understanding that now, it is time for a second opinion.

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