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Portal Blog

Look at the Forest

So you’ve gotten your piece into Portal. Now what? Aspiring writers eagerly await acceptance emails and jump for joy when they see the notification appear in the inbox. All the earlier stress and revisions were worth it. As a non-fiction editor for this year’s issue, it has been a pleasure and privilege to work with these authors and their works.

That said, once you’re accepted, the work doesn’t end there. As Stephen King once said, “When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”

An editor’s job is to look at the forest and weed out the struggling saplings and invasive species. The task might seem daunting, but done well, it helps preserve the healthiest trees and weed out sick plants.

Part of the development of author-editor relationship also comes down to having lengthy discussions about some of those trees, debating the merits of keeping one species over the other, or simply pulling out a few clinging ones choking the narrative.

To an author, the editor’s job may seem like they are chopping down trees with abandon, but let me assure you, your forest will be better and healthier than it was. Recognising what needs to be sawed, pruned, trimmed, and spliced is all part of the process.

For more resources on editing and self-editing, I highly recommend Stephen King’s On Writing, and Betsy Lerner’s Forest for the Trees.


-Catherine Charlebois, Non-Fiction Editor

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