Your turn: Great editors, teachers, and other nice people

I was so looking forward to writing this post today, and then hit one of those morning glitches — a vandal broke into my p.o. box, the post office wants me to report what was stolen but besides a mystery package (from who? from where?) I can’t know what’s missing because I don’t know what was there in the first place!

(Pant, pant; recover.)

But the world is still a nice place with good people, as these recent articles attest.

How about an editor who flies to where you live and hangs out for days, helping you edit? OK, the story comes from a few years ago, when publishing operated a little differently, but it’s still amazing. The current Poets & Writers interview with Jonathan Karp (publisher and editor-in-chief of Twelve) includes a great anecdote about editing Mario Puzo. Karp and two other editors flew to Las Vegas, where Puzo preferred to work, and spent days working with the novelist, and nights gambling with him. Karp felt bad about losing some money Puzo had loaned him, but he later earned it back — and cemented a relationship with Puzo, who believed the young editor was “lucky.” Those were the days…

Also in the “nice people file,” novelist Alexander Chee remembers in tender detail about being taught by Annie Dillard at Wesleyan. The essay is worth reading for the many fine pieces of writing advice Dillard imparted to her fortunate students. Kudos also to Chee for remembering and capturing that long-ago experience (1989) so well. And thanks to Moonrat — nice person #4 — for mentioning this great essay on her blog, editorial ass.

Did an agent, editor, fellow writer, or someone else, do something nice/helpful/extraordinary for you, lately or long ago? Help me forget about my stolen mail. Share the good stories here.

4 thoughts on “Your turn: Great editors, teachers, and other nice people”

  1. First, condolences on the stolen mail. And out of a PO Box? That you pay for? Double nastiness. Second, I love the tag: Nice People. Long may it live at 49 Writers.

    Claire Rudolf Murphy is the nice writer who launched me in publishing, suggesting I send my novel to her editor, who became my editor for two books. Coming out of teaching, where some hoard their lesson files as if they contained atomic secrets, I was flabbergasted at her unflinching generosity. Claire, my friend, you are indeed a Nice Person.

  2. Sonya Senkowsky is a name many of you may be familiar with. Alaska Writers’ Homestead is her site.

    I had seen a notice somewhere for a writers' teleconference and so on the appointed day and hour I dialed in. Well, there had been a typo and the day had passed – but – Sonya offered me forty five minutes of her time right then for discussion of my novel (at no charge). She was professional, efficient, and kind. I was looking for an editor and Sonya hooked me up. She also asked Andromeda to review my first ten sample pages and Andromeda gave a very helpful and direct response. My work is better for having had their input.

    The simple camaraderie and the professional assistance was the kind of graciousness that always surprises me when I come upon it in this world. These things make the days sweeter, even years later when remembering them.
    Thanks, Sonya and Andromeda.

    Suddenly I am remembering all kinds of helpful people along the way. This is a good way to start a day. I may have many rivers to cross but I remember the many blessings to count along the way.

  3. I met YA writer Carol Lynch Williams (author of The Chosen) via email prior to attending a conference she organized. She was very generous with her time. That was over two years ago. She has looked at parts of three of my novels, offering expert writing advice, and gave me lots of encouragement in during the query process. By coincidence or luck or fate I signed with an agent, Jennifer DeChiara, who works with Carol's agent, so now Carol is my cousin!

  4. Jay Varela was a great Theater Arts teacher I had during some extemporaneous study at Ventura College in California.

    Forceful, inspiring and certainly opinionated, Mr. Varela's influence sent many students careers careening off into the world of drama. ( Even though their parents were hoping for business majors! )

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