"As an editor and like many others here tonight, I live in a strange twilight book landscape of non-books and half-books filled with typescripts that the general public never sees. Books that can never become books. Should never be books. During my career I have read so many of these unbelievably unreadable offerings. Typescripts that to read are like eating a mound of macerated school-dinner butter beans. You can hardly force your brain to chew the words. Compelling yourself to turn the page feels like trying to stay awake while exhausted driving a car. You have to stop immediately. Bad writing is unreadable. Please remember that -bad writing is unreadable- by anyone. It is like when an enthusiastic fourteen-year-old tells you about the film he has just been to see. He comes in from the cinema all excited, and no matter what you are doing he will regurgitate the whole damn plot and pour it down your ear-hole in one great lump of undifferentiated detail without stopping -without editing it. That teenager is still learning to edit. We all are, all through life. It’s an experience thing, editing, a matter of judgement. The more you do it the less you pretend to know and the better you get. Paradoxes like that are the stuff of editing. Big hint to publishing executives everywhere: don’t fire ageing editors. Please. They should grow old on the job."
David Fickling, "Narrative Heaven - The Editor’s Tale", en Signal 97, Inglaterra, enero 2002.