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I am an editor at the University of California Press and author of the first full-length handbook ever published on the subject of developmental editing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Those Who Can't Write, Edit

For many of us, editing is a vocation in its own right, not a fallback career. The assertion “Those who can’t write, edit” is as false as “Those who can’t do, teach.” Like teachers, we editors have a special calling to bring out the best in others, to facilitate their growth and productivity. We master a complex set of skills over many years, adhere to a well-defined set of ethical standards, and provide services crucial to the success of our industry.


  1. Well put. Anyone who says "Those who can't write, edit" can't be much good at either one. The best writers always appreciate a good edit, and the best editors understand good writing. Frustrated writers don't make good editors, either.


  2. Those who can, write; those who can't, edit - that seems to be the line. I prefer TS Eliot. Asked if editors were no more than failed writers, he replied: "Perhaps - but so are most writers." (Blake Morrison)