The wife of a friend of a friend gingerly handed me her 60-page manuscript a few days ago, asking for line editing and correction of any grammar or punctuation errors.
She did not want line editing. She wanted me to tell her her book was perfect.
I read the first eight pages. The spelling was fine, of course, and hidden among all the airy-fairy moralizing there lurked a good story. But I knew I would never forgive myself if I simply corrected a few typos, especially if the writer acknowledged me as an editor. Ack! Besides, I was doing this work for free.
So I line edited and sent her two pages of her own work, rearranged, weeded, and with half a dozen empty words substituted with expressive ones. Naturally, she fired me. Phew.
This morning, during journal time, I wrote a folktale to express my annoyance. I hope you like it.
A rich man with a fine Cadillac took it to a detailer’s shop. The luxury car was coated thickly in road dust and spattered with bird droppings on its roof and pine pitch on its windshield. Its interior held empty potato chip bags and drippy soft-drink tins, cups of clotted coffee and wads of blown tissue, gritty floormats and fingerprinted windows.
After several hours of hard work, the detailer presented the clean, shiny Caddy to its owner. But the rich man refused to pay him, shouting “That’s your car now, it isn’t mine anymore!” as he jumped into the driver’s seat and squealed its tires on the way out of the lot.
The detailer, wiping his hands, briefly considered taking the rich man to small claims court. “But why bother?” He concluded. “That man is more unhappy than I am.”