Lauren Wein, An Editor Among Us

Thursday, March 31, 2011

To visit an editor is to walk into a realm—into small offices made labyrinthine by the architecture of stacked books and scrambled manuscripts, posted notes to self, cardboard cutouts, events long gone but living on in the fade of aging posters.  I have been lucky in my travels, blessed to enter in, and time and again, I have been made grateful for those who spend their days leaning their imaginations and hearts against and into the work that they've acquired.  Editors, the best of them, make books better.  They allow books to live.

We hear from authors far more than we hear from editors.  We conjecture about editors' lives more than they know, more than they likely wish we would.  But in recent days, Lauren Wein, an editor at Grove/Atlantic who worked with her team to bring Francisco Goldman's remarkable Say Her Name to light, let us in on her relationship to this book and with this writer in a beautiful essay published in this special editors' forum at The Front Table. 

It's no ordinary retelling, Wein's essay.  It is a reflection that begins with the line "Francisco Goldman is an unlikely Hades" and that yields, over its quiet coursing, insights not just into the novel that Wein helped edit but into the transformative nature of editing itself.  We come to know the book and its author in Wein's essay; we also, magically, come to know Wein, who in August 2005 traveled to San Miguel de Allende (where the above photograph was taken two years later, when I journeyed there myself) to attend Goldman's wedding to Aura, the young woman, sadly no longer alive, who stands at the heart of Say Her Name.  "I traveled there with a colleague, Amy Hundley, and my six-month old daughter," Wein writes, continuing:
I sobbed through much of the nearly 12-hour journey. As a new mother, I was still finding my footing. I could not believe I’d been entrusted with this new life, and what was I doing taking her so far from our comfort zone?

But those days in San Miguel, that wedding, were among the best moments I’ve ever shared with my daughter. It proved to be an empowering journey in every sense—away from home, family, work, caregivers, she and I learned each other’s rhythms, learned to trust one another. We survived, we transcended, we fell in love. Frank and Aura were people who inspired others to leave their comfort zone—they led by example, they dared you to take risks that enabled you to become more than you were before.

Wein ends her essay with lines from a poem.  I won't share them here, for it is my hope that you'll go and read the entire essay itself—that you will, on this day, grow in your appreciation for the hearts and minds of the editors among us.


Liviania said...

Thanks for pointing me to Wein's essay.

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