Insider 4/30/2010 - Darla Kennerud

My name is Darla, and I . . . am an editor.

There—I said it. It’s kind of freeing, actually. No more lurking in the shadows with my editorial knife at the ready, waiting to pounce on whatever slipshod semicolons and hapless hyperbole that may wander by my desk. Yes! I am the editor here at Privateer Press! But what does that mean?

editor: someone who edits.

Well, that’s helpful. Let’s try another form of the word.

edit: to prepare for publication; to alter, adapt, or refine.

It may be accurate (or at least not inaccurate!), but it hardly captures the thrills and chills any working editor experiences on a daily basis. Even less so for an editor in the game publishing industry.

“Editor” is a term that has been around for over three and a half centuries but which can be used to mean practically anything, or nothing at all, depending on the speaker’s relationship to the writer. Or the text. Or the publisher. Or the money used to purchase the final product. You could think of it as the “engineer” of the current day, as it gives to any title a sense of purpose without actually defining much at all. Domestic engineer? Oh, please! What I really want is a household editor. You know, someone who will come in and make it look like I see it in my head. Maybe—just maybe—even a little better.

It’s actually in the Latin roots of the word that I find the best description of this odd role I’ve enjoyed for two decades now. In ancient Rome, the editor ludorum was the one who put on the bloody spectacles of the gladiatorial games—which, after all, were the main form of entertainment in those times. Blood of heroes and villains alike watering the ground, ferocious animals fighting for meat, weapons of all sorts brandished in honor and desperation, and adoring fans that can turn on their idols in a split second: it may sound outlandish to you, but for me, it’s just another day at the office.