IVP - Behind the Books - The Editor as Ignoramus

February 4, 2008

The Editor as Ignoramus

Pulling back the curtain is, generally speaking, a worthwhile effort. Everybody benefits--the curtain-puller is more fully known and better understood, the audience is better informed and more fully engaged. I get it. I do.

But sometimes pulling back the curtain is entirely inappropriate--pulling back the shower curtain, for example, benefits no one. And regardless of whether the drawn curtain is revealing something good and insightful or something unsightly and humiliating, nobody involved will ever be the same.

I've pulled back the curtain twice this week, once with an editorial intern and once with an IVP author. And in both cases I've revealed the final frontier of full disclosure: I've put on display the Editor as Ignoramus.

The nice thing about an IVP editorial internship is that you get to see the entire publishing process from the inside--participation in a variety of meetings at every point in the process, occasional field trips to printing presses, editing and copywriting projects, everything from soup to nuts. (I think I'm using that correctly.) The problem with an IVP editorial internship is that someone needs to be prepared to guide the intern through the publishing process, and that person is typically me. And I only occasionally know what I'm talking about.

This week, midway through our debriefing about a particularly complex interdepartmental meeting, I realized that I was effectively making up my responses to our intern's questions. In my defense, this was informed improvisation; I've been around the IVP block a few times, so I have a good general understanding of how things work around here. Nevertheless, I felt compelled by my sense of intellectual honesty to tell her that I was, in fact, making up my comments as I went along. Fortunately, a few of my colleagues were within earshot and came to bail me out--not to mention rescuing my hapless victim from slipping into the rather dubious role of Intern as Ignoramus.

My other display of mediocrity this week is the real dual purpose of this post--to confess my ignorance and to accommodate a request in the only way I know how. L. L. Barkat, who very graciously covered for a recent spate of writer's block here at Behind the Books, generated more comments than is common for our site with her post about the writer's muse. Along the way she decided to direct readers to the site of fellow IVP author Ed Gilbreath. She didn't know how to do that using our blogging software, so she asked me to fix the link.

Well, L. L., the thing is, ummm . . . I don't know how to do that. Because when you get right down to it, I'm an ignoramus.

I do, however, know how to include a link in the main body of a blog post, hence today's post. I also, apparently, know how to ramble on incessantly about nothing of great import, hence the length of today's post. But in the grand scheme of things, I think, this was bound to happen at Behind the Books: the curtain has been pulled back as far as it will go, and there stands the editor, fully disclosed, warts and all on display. Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at February 4, 2008 9:01 AM Bookmark and Share


Always making me laugh!

As for what happened with Ed's link, I think I just forgot to put in the end code, which made the link appear to go on and on (like this post ;-) and end up linking to nothing (hopefully NOT like this post :)

I should learn to take advantage of the preview function! (Thus the curtain is pulled back again... I tend to be one who goes forward without a lot of previewing of my thoughts)

Anyway, it seems that editors aren't the only ones with curtain problems.

Comment by: L.L. Barkat at February 4, 2008 10:54 AM


We really must stop meeting like this. But then, you did tell me about this neighborhood. It's a nice neighborhood. I learn a lot. But does it sound like he's picking on us memoirist types? Pulling back those curtains as we do ...

But then, somehow I found Dave's blog yesterday, multitasking through the boring third inning of the superbowl as I was. I learned a thing or two. Man with the funny name indeed!

That's the thing about our curtainless blogs. There are actually people out there reading them.

Is it nothing to them, all them who pass by?

I have my doubts.

Comment by: Christine A. Scheller at February 4, 2008 12:42 PM

David, you know I'm kidding around right? You're a very funny guy.

Comment by: Christine A. Scheller at February 4, 2008 9:29 PM

Christine: I get it. I'm hip. Speaking of funny, there's an interesting debate taking place at Andy Unedited, our sister blog by my corporate father figure, about the ethics of humor. I'm voting "present" because I hate conflict, but the rest of you should check it out. Of course, I've already admitted that I don't know how to post a link in these comments, so you'll have to copy and paste www.ivpress.com/andyunedited. Good luck with that.

Comment by: Dave at February 5, 2008 8:40 AM


First of all, the link is broken because the word "blog" goes in there somewhere. Did a yahoo search to find it.

Second, I should stick to my day job because as I was posting I was thinking my punch line didn't really work. "I have my fears" or something like that might have worked. And, if you have to ask if the person gets it, you're probably out of range already.

So now, I think I'll bring the curtain down on my brief comedy career. Blessings.

Comment by: Christine A. Scheller at February 5, 2008 9:49 AM

Duh. www.ivpress.com/blogs/andyunedited. Thanks for pointing that out, Christine.

Comment by: dave at February 5, 2008 10:00 AM

Well, I suceeded at one bit of humor. My husband laughed out loud reading my reference to the "3rd inning of the superbowl."

Unintentional humorist. Sounds like a calling ...

Comment by: Christine A. Scheller at February 5, 2008 10:58 AM

Unintentional humor is probably the best sort, Christine. It comes from a deeper place. So that just when we give up trying, we may find people laughing!

Comment by: L.L. Barkat at February 5, 2008 2:07 PM

Like when an editor spells succeed wrong : )

Comment by: Christine A. Scheller at February 5, 2008 6:37 PM

Oh, marvelous!

Comment by: L.L. Barkat at February 6, 2008 9:24 PM

... and then writes succeed instead of succeeded : )

Maybe I should rethink this whole comedy thing after all.

Comment by: Christine A. Scheller at February 7, 2008 4:35 PM

To the contrary. I think you're on the right track.

Comment by: L.L. Barkat at February 7, 2008 5:28 PM

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