Meaghan and I have far more editing experience in a workshop environment, and so when we passed drafts back and forth a few times for comments before going back to authors with suggestions, it felt a little like a time-shifted workshop. We’ve been editing stories since mid-February (so that’s about two and a half months of editing about two dozen stories, while working full-time jobs), and to account for this being experimental, we’ve been adding new strategies to our process as we go. We’ve also been editing in public, and that’s challenging. Contributors can try to guess from our project updates when they think they should have heard back from us — and as we treated each story differently, and put each through multiple rounds of edits before we ever went back to the author — it took some stories more time to settle then others.
But back to the difference between what we did and what other anthology editors — especially erotica anthology editors (which we are not, not really) do — I’ve only participated, as a writer, in three anthologies, but each time, I got so few edits back I felt as if I was just being copyedited. (I am not perfect. And definitely not that perfect. And for this, we hired a copyeditor for C&C.) But it’s maybe a helpful distinction, between curation (where one edits only by placement, proximity, context) and editing (where the editor, well, edits). I took my editing cues in C&C not from my anthology experience, but from my experience being edited once an hour in the blog mines — where I had to learn to write fast and without attachment. It’s my editorial opinion (oh god) that this painful, ego-cutting-up process made me far less precious about my words. I trusted my editors to hold me to a goal my ego as an artist sometimes got in the way of (a lot of the time gets in the way of) — communication, speaking directly, reaching a reader in a relatable way. I mean, this is my editor — and if he can’t wade through what I want to say, and he’s getting paid to do so, there’s a problem with my work. We all have trusted First Readers, and those should probably be close friends who will tell us how painfully brilliant we are at the same time as they hold us accountable to whatever standards we tell them matter to us in our work. But an editor’s job is to hold the writer to their own standards and their own vision.
And last — we may not have had a sexual agenda going into this book (how could we?) but we certainly had an agenda as writers. We didn’t try to bring any story into alignment with an agenda of what it should be “about,” but we did push stories in directions we think are important and need pushing to happen — to be more raw, to be less needy, to be more human about sex.