Monday, May 9, 2011

The Editor's Natural Habitat

Hello! It's Editors' Month here at PAD, which means that the most shy and retiring creatures in the publishing ecosystem must reluctantly emerge from their burrows and face the spotlights (so harsh on our pasty skin!).  Today, nature lovers, you're in luck--you'll have the opportunity to examine a wild Editor's natural habitat up close.  So climb aboard and let's go! (Note: Please keep all hands and arms inside the car until the ride comes to a complete stop.  Do not poke, harass or throw things at the Editor--although leaving bonbons or wine is welcome.  Please avoid making sudden movements or loud sounds, as the Editor has delicate sensibilities and is easily rattled.  Last time a school group came through here, the Editor hid under her desk for a week and savagely excised every adverb in the manuscript she was reading at the time.  That author is still in therapy.)

I'm happy to answer any questions you have about the care and feeding of Editors.  Here are some of the most common:

Q: Where do Editors live?
A: Editors can thrive in many different ecosystems, but their densest population in the U.S. is in New York City.  They prefer places with many libraries and bookstores, as well as easily accessible delivery food. The Editor whose nest we're visiting today selected a very typical home--high off ground, where she can scan for danger and also find interesting things to look at when staring out the window, lost in thought.

Q: What does an Editor's burrow look like?
A: Most Editors like to surround themselves with paper of all varieties, although in the last decade or so, a new subspecies of Editor has appeared, which prefers to nest in piles of USB cable.  Today's creature is an Editorialis Libris rather than Editorialis Electra, so there's paper as far as the eye can see.

While many would be distressed by the apparent chaos with which the Editor surrounds herself, the creature appears to find the depth of paper and books comforting.  It is said that an Editor knows exactly what each piece of paper in her nest is for, and where to find it, much like a dragon on its hoard of gold.  However, no one has been brave enough to test this theory by removing an item from a nest in the wild.

Some editors also engage in decorative displays. It is unknown why this behavior occurs, as it seems unrelated to mating or food procurement.

Q: What do Editors eat?
A: The Editor is a rare beast indeed, having two primary modes of consumption. The first is an assortment of foodstuffs that varies widely.  Editors are generally omnivorous, though some prefer bagels while others subsist on edamame.  When trying to coax a reluctant Editor into view, we select the tastiest treats to lure them from their holes:

But the most fascinating element of the Editorial lifestyle is that they have a second complete digestive system, located primarily in the skull, that consumes only words on paper, in either manuscript or book form.  And while the Editor can be a bit of a slob when she's nesting, she is scrupulous about her brain food.  Here is this Editor's "word pantry":

As many people have observed, paper multiplies of its own accord.  In this shot, you can see several manuscripts in various stages of "ripeness."  The smaller stacks have only recently been hunted and dragged back to the nest, while the taller piles are very close to becoming books.  The editor has been nibbling on these for weeks or months, until she is convinced that the pile is at the optimum height.  Then, and only then, does something miraculous occur.

Q: What is it? What's the miraculous occurrence?
A:  Just as a humble caterpillar retires to a cocoon and emerges a beautiful butterfly, so do these stacks of drab paper become something magnificent: books!

As you can see, the Editor grows a trifle less fastidious once her manuscript stack has reached its colorful end, but it is obvious that here, truly, is her greatest treasure.  Surprisingly, while the Editor is viciously possessive about her piles of nest-paper, once that paper is converted into a book, she grows generous, even pushy, bringing bits of her hoard to that most coveted of symbiotic relationships, Readers.  Above all, it is the Editor's wish to please as many Readers as possible with her bits of treasure, dropped at their feet.
But the Reader exhibit is another tour, and one we don't have time for today.  For now, let us say farewell to the Editor and leave her to her papers once more.  Thanks for coming, and don't forget to hit the gift shop on the way out!

This post first appeared on Pocket After Dark, Pocket's online community for romance and urban fantasy fans.  Please feel free to visit PAD for discussion groups, book trailers, free books and more!

No comments: