On writing

Overheard: an editor’s assistant

Overheard at a coffee shop near one of the big five publishing houses.

Smartly dressed girl, “I’m employed to edit manuscripts, but he hasn’t given me a single manuscript yet.”

Sympathetic noises from more casually dressed friend, who looks as if she has the day off and is meeting Girl for lunch.

More casual conversation, and I get the impression that Girl is working for ‘him’. Maybe as an assistant, but he’s definitely her boss.

Girl, “I waited and waited for him to give me some editing to do. He didn’t. Finally, I asked, and he came back with a whole pile of manuscripts and said, ‘Send these back. They’re rejects.’ ”

Horrified sympathetic noises from friend. “He’s treating you like a secretary.”

“Exactly. And I’m employed to edit manuscripts. Well, I gave it a few more days before I asked again. Do you know what he did? He gave me more manuscripts to return. I’m sick of it. I don’t want to do this job any more.”

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