Mierenneuker

Yesterday, David told me the Dutch word for editor.

He wrote it down for me in class, because he figured I’d be amused, given how I’m spending my life editing lately.

No, he’s not studying Dutch. He’s learning basic Chinese for his acupuncture certification and the teacher happens to be Dutch. Which makes for an interesting class, David says. Added to this that among the other students are a guy from Liverpool and a gal from Texas, with their associated thick accents, plus gals who are native Japanese and Portuguese speakers. The interchange of language leads to all sorts of back and forth. At any rate, the teacher told the class yesterday that he was very nitpicky about the pictograms, because that’s what an editor, mierenneuker, means in Dutch.

The literal translation? “Ant-f**ker.”

What an image.

That’s partly the copy-editing idea. But even with a substantive revision, there’s a fair amount of ant-f**king going on. Back and forth over the tiny details. I’ve rounded a corner on mine and I think I have things stacked up so the rest will fall into place. Birds flying high? You know how I feel.

All the while I’m doing this, I’ve been following the tweets of a Famous Author. She has been working to complete her book by a deadline. She tweets and blogs about it quite profusely — it’s interesting to have a window into her angst. She’s been working with increasing frenzy, churning out 10-20 pages in a sitting. She stayed up all night to finish, went to bed at 5am, slept four hours, got up and finished the book by the end of the day.

She’s exhausted and triumphant. Happy to have sent the book off.

That’s right. She sent it off already.

Now, this Famous Author is one who has openly declared that no one edits her anymore. She’s one of those, like Anne Rice, who has reached a level of fame and money-making that she believes she doesn’t need an editor. The publishing house doesn’t care, because they make money anyway.

Oh yeah, I personally stopped buying her books some time ago because they got so truly terrible.

And now I wonder — are her all-night outpourings going straight to hardback? Writers talk about the virtues of the “vomit draft,” where you just pour it all onto the page. The point being that you then go back and shape it. Not pack it off for publication.

It doesn’t bear repeating that this isn’t fair. Of course the Famous Author can do this — she’s already made it. She says her sales continue to go up, so she’s not interested in her fans complaints that the books have gone downhill. Of course I can’t do this, because nobody yet knows if anyone will ever buy my books.

But I swear to this now: I will always have an editor, no matter what. Somebody has to take care of the ant-f**king!

3 Replies to “Mierenneuker”

  1. OK. I love the dutch word for copyediting…and will certainly find many and sundry ways to use it. And I have a feeling I know who your famous author is, although I don't follow her on twitter. And I'm with you: everyone needs an editor. I love it when someone else can look at my story and make it better.

  2. Meh. I fee the same way about said author. God, sometimes her inanity just makes me want to slam my face in a wall.

    But I agree. When the ego gets in front of the editor, there's bound to be an issue.

  3. Great perspective Jeffe. I will now forever think of the Dutch meaning whenever someone says "editor". One question, how exactly do you pronunce mierenneuker?? (Spanish is the only foreign language I know–and I used the term "know" very loosely–so by default, I apply those pronunciation rules to any foreign language I come across. This is usually a mistake 😉

    On a side note, I've heard from some pub'd writers in my group that certain author's that have "made it" feel they know longer need and editor. I think all agreed their finished products suffered for it.

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