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A thorough going over ...

Brendan Barrington, editor of the Dublin Review, was asked by the Irish Times recently what kind of editor he felt himself to be; and he answered:

“Thorough, I think. Sometimes to a fault. I think I’m ambitious in that I’m usually not satisfied with a piece that’s perfectly fine. I’m always looking for little ways of making it better. Sometimes that means cutting things out of it but other times it means sending the writer away to develop or clarify or sharpen something. Editing feels a little bit like archeology or sculpting, working with a big piece of granite, and chipping away at it.”

What reaction does this provoke from writers? “I frequently get comments to the effect that ‘I’ve never been edited like this before’, and sometimes one might sense a slight edge of irritation. But mostly it’s positive in that good writers enjoy being edited. They enjoy the interchange. They may not agree with all my ideas and that’s absolutely fine, but the encounter is valuable, and they value it.”


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