I’m working on a project now that is sprawling and global. I will be working on it when I am 90. This is a project requiring different editors at different stages. And this is when editors remind me of hairdressers.
I have switched hairdressers before, only to learn that my previous hair stylist was incompetent. She seemed fine to me for years and years, but, according to the new hairdresser, my head was a shameful mess.
Editors can do this to each other too. I once worked on a project with a very good friend where we cut a book in two and each took half, then switched material. Finally we admitted, after much tension and snappiness and over chinese food, that we both thought the other did a crappy job — and in fact, wondered if the other had even edited at all. We remain good friends. And in fact, work even better together because we see our strengths as complementary instead of focussing on the shocking omissions of the other.
On this current project, the editors (including myself) are eyeing each other’s work warily.
What I am convincing myself is that, in the end, this will be a book with a very fine haircut.