My motto as an editor started out as a design standard in the U.S. Navy: Keep it simple, stupid! I like to read writing and translation that’s kept simple. I do not mean that I am a minimalist, or that I only want to work with minimalist writers. I do mean that I love encountering a mind that shines, bright and unobstructed, from the page.
Some writers get in their own way with tricks and showboating. For instance, I frequently encounter lovely, finely wrought language that absolutely does not suit or belong to the character supposedly narrating the story. Other writers constrain themselves. Some translators get in the original work’s way, most often, ironically, by being afraid to change a phrase or bit of syntax in order to recreate the source’s energy or voice.
I suppose I’m saying that although I value technical skill, what counts most to me is how deeply, honestly, and surprisingly a writer can explore their questions, emotions, ideas, and obsessions—which, in the end, are what set a work apart. Don’t get in your own way. Keep it simple.
—Lily Meyer, acquiring editor, Relegation Books