first draft

We all know how the publishing industry has changed. Here's one change you may not be aware of unless you're a published writer.  Most of the bigger, reputable publishers used to have editors on staff, or on salary, if not in house.  They were paid by the publishers, not by the writers. No more.  A writer has to find his own editor, whether it's a friend or cousin, someone in the business or not, to read and critique, assess and suggest improvements.  Theatres have such experts now, more than publishers used to. They're called dramaturgs; they used to be called simply play-readers.  

I loved (most of) my editors. They brought out the best in me and protected me from my worst habits. (Too many asides; do you notice I still indulge in that?)  The dramaturgs were not quite as helpful, nor were workshops that assembled a group of actors to read a play and comment.  That was like dream analysis in the old gestalt days.  Sometimes they were right on and I'd nod my head vigorously and scribble a note, happy to discover a corroboration of what I was trying to say.  Other times not so good.  The trouble with the actors was that each one had eyes only for the character he was reading and made suggestions that somehow increased that character's role.  Each actor became his own protagonist.  I'd nod respectfully and write something down.  Sometimes the dramaturg  or the director would ask to look at my notes but I always refused because a note would often read: "This is a crock," or "He is a horse's ass."  So I kept my notes to myself.  

Well, that was then, this is now.  I paid an editor to read the first draft of my new book and he is behaving like an out-of-work actor, only not dramatically.  Drastically, yes, because, like some bad critics, he has not commented on the book I wrote but on the one he would have written. And he has taken exception, often viciously, to an opinion of mine he does not share.  I can still learn something from him but I have to be careful.  Think of him as a hostile reader.  Try to second-guess his reaction and pull the props of an argument out from under him. More words.

No one ever said writing was easy.