How do you edit?

Question: How do you edit?


Nathaniel Rich: It looks like stacks of- of pages on my desk and spread around, and we get something like 1,000 stories sent a month to The Paris Review. And- and that’s not even counting things sent by agents and- and writers that we’re in touch with. So I- most of my job is reading stories and reading novels and trying to find excerpts occasionally that we can shape into short stories. And when we find something that we’re really excited ab- about and- and wanna publish it, then we’ll do editorial work if we feel like there’s a way to improve it beyond what we have on the page. And sometimes we don’t.

They feel very different to me. I mean, I feel like I’m using different sides of my brain, and- and I- I feel that way even when I’m editing my own writing. It feels like a very different activity. There’s a kind of hyper logical side that you- of your brain I think you use when you’re editing, and that’s whether it’s editing fiction or non-fiction. I mean, I learned early on in the job that editing fiction is- you basically apply many of the same principles that you would use editing non-fiction-- you know, issues like continuity, consistency.

It takes different forms when you’re talking about characters and stories as opposed to a, you know, linear argument of an essay- a critical essay. But it’s the same kind of issues. And with writing, I feel like it’s more of a- it’s- it’s a more creative process and it- it’s-- I try to quiet my editing side as much as possible and write a lot of nonsense on the page and then later try to edit it into something that makes sense.




Recorded On: 3/17/2008

Rich's editorial process looks like stacks and stacks of paper.

Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
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This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
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Climate change melts Mount Everest's ice, exposing dead bodies of past climbers

Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.

Image source: Wikimedia commons
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  • Recent glacial melting, caused by global warming, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
  • While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.

The bodies that remain in view are often used as waypoints for the living. Some of them are well-known markers that have earned nicknames.

For instance, the image above is of "Green Boots," the unidentified corpse named for its neon footwear. Widely believed to be the body of Tsewang Paljor, the remains are well known as a guide point for passing mountaineers. Perhaps it is too well known, as the climber David Sharp died next to Green Boots while dozens of people walked past him- many presuming he was the famous corpse.

A large area below the summit has earned the discordant nickname "rainbow valley" for being filled with the bright and colorfully dressed corpses of maintainers who never made it back down. The sight of a frozen hand or foot sticking out of the snow is so common that Tshering Pandey Bhote, vice president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association claimed: "most climbers are mentally prepared to come across such a sight."

Other bodies are famous for not having been found yet. Sandy Irvine, the partner of George Mallory, may have been one of the first two people to reach the summit of Everest a full thirty years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did it. Since they never made it back down, nobody knows just how close to the top they made it.

Mallory's frozen body was found by chance in the nineties without the Kodak cameras he brought up to record the climb with. It has been speculated that Irvine might have them and Kodak says they could still develop the film if the cameras turn up. Circumstantial evidence suggests that they died on the way back down from the summit, Mallory had his goggles off and a photo of his wife he said he'd put at the peak wasn't in his coat. If Irving is found with that camera, history books might need rewriting.

As Everest's glaciers melt its morbid history comes into clearer view. Will the melting cause old bodies to become new landmarks? Will Sandy Irvine be found? Only time will tell.

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