Great article from Salon on editing. I love these quotes but the whole article is worth reading for authors, editors and those who think they want to be one or the other:
Many times over the past 20 years, people have asked me, “What exactly does an editor do?”
It’s not an easy question to answer. Editors are craftsmen, ghosts, psychiatrists, bullies, sparring partners, experts, enablers, ignoramuses, translators, writers, goalies, friends, foremen, wimps, ditch diggers, mind readers, coaches, bomb throwers, muses and spittoons — sometimes all while working on the same piece.
But an editor’s primary responsibility is not to the writer but to the reader. He or she must be ruthlessly dedicated to making the piece stronger. Since this is ultimately a subjective judgment, and quite a tricky one, a good editor needs to be as self-confident as a writer.
This isn’t easy. You have to let go of your attachment to the specific words you’ve written and open yourself to what you were aiming for. You need enough confidence in yourself to accept constructive criticism, some of which can feel like your internal organs are being more or less gently moved around. More than just about any other non-artistic activity — therapy and, yes, sex are possible exceptions — being edited forces you to see yourself, or at least what you’ve written, the way others see you. It is a depersonalizing process in some ways, yet having to stand outside yourself deepens you as a person. You need to grow a thick skin in order to have a thinner, more sensitive one.