I’m Your Biggest Fan

I left Parthian this month. I want to thank my many wonderful authors. They’ve been a joy and a privilege to commission and develop, and have made me appreciate ever more deeply the value of our national literature and, of course, the process of developing a book together. Perhaps, along the way, I have helped them to allow their books to be all they can be. A lot of writing is a certain kind of ‘giving away’. For, somehow, I’ve always had the conviction that a book knows best what it wants to become. Here is where the editor comes in. And in an age where the perceived democracy of putting a book out there, on your own, through e-book, promises a lot more than I believe it can achieve – well, it’s worth noting. For, after all, why does anybody need an editor? The best editor functions as an adventurer, the outsider who can shine a torch, here and there, into the darker, unexplored corners of a work – and the author’s imagination. The old friend who can speak a bold and uncomfortable truth in kindness. The trusted business partner who can say, we’re in this together, kid. The prosecution. The defence. The believer. But, most of all, the person who encourages a confidence on the part of the author to allow the book. All of the difficulties, doubts, frustrations and revisions of a book result in this allowance, a giving away to its design: a certain fragile and beautiful blooming. Indeed, contrary to a general assumption, here’s the thing: the greater the author, the more they should get out of an editorial process. Once a good writer can make it without a good editor – they are a good writer no more.

Have I fulfilled these roles, as I note them down? I can’t know. But, as an editor, I do know what you learn. You learn to think and read intensively. You learn to open your mind to track another’s vision. I think you become more generous. Less prejudiced. More dedicated. More demanding of possibility. Braver. A little more dangerous. And whenever you pass a billboard you endure ever more helplessly the gradual extinction of the hyphen. All, save for the last, being gifts for which I am so very grateful.

The Parthian list for next year is exceptional. I cherish each book, and salute every one of my authors. I am proud of all we have achieved together, and I will follow their success – and Parthian’s – with my full support and enthusiasm, as always. ‘I’m your biggest fan.’ Congratulations to them all.

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