How I Have Managed to Write a Book

Nicholas Goldberg: In defense of long, bug-crushing, Kleenex-box sized novels — or, how one gets the hang of an editor

A lot of my writing career has been spent in an editorial capacity, editing both books and journals, in various capacities. It is the type of job in which the most important criteria are time and quality, not quantity. It is an impossible job for every person, but the person who would be best positioned to do it is the person who not only has a deep understanding of the craft of writing (in the case that such a thing exists); but who also has the time and the stamina to commit the time and patience to the process of writing an editorial.

And I suspect, when it comes to the craft of writing, a lot of the best editors are not well-liked by their authors. There is, of course, a lot of room in the marketplace to be published, and not all publishers are necessarily happy to handle the books and journals in which the most important criteria are time and quality, but there are publishers out there who are willing to. For the most part, what I find most fascinating about editing is not that I spend so much time on such a mundane but essential task, but that it does not have to be dull. It does not have to be anything other than what I would like to do, but I end up realizing that many other people — editors, agents, and editors-in-waiting — have found that the best way to handle the role of editorial is to actually go do it.

I am a writer myself — I do write books, but I am not particularly good at it. To the contrary, I tend to be one of those “good enough” writers whose books are rarely widely read by critics and readers outside of academia. I do have a deep respect for the work of the best editors and writers, as that means that, to me at least, I get to write the kind of books that I have the greatest interest in reading. It has not always been easy going for someone who thinks that, well, they have to write books to earn a living; but, as time passes, the better the editor is, the more they realize that the writing a book is the only way to earn a living.

So, my idea for this blog post was this: after all this time and all the effort and,

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