The relationship between an editor and her writers can be a complicated one. On one side you've got noble, pure-hearted scribes slaving over stories with sweat and grit, on the other you have evil overlords dead set on crushing their dreams.
"Ouch," says Ann Friedman, the creator of our new favorite Tumblr, EDITORREALTALK.TUMBLR.COM. "I can assure you that dream-crushing is a statistically insignificant portion of my day."
#realtalk is a hilarious collection of reaction GIFs to the common gripes, and cherished victories, that an editor encounters throughout the work day. "WHEN ONE OF THE DESIGNERS TELLS ME I HAVE TO CUT ANOTHER 400 WORDS", for example, accompanied by an animated GIF of Tobias Fünke sobbing in the shower.
"I started the Tumblr during a bout of deadline-panic-induced insomnia a few weeks ago," Friedman, the executive editor at GOOD magazine and former editor at The American Prospect writes in an e-mail. "I didn't share it immediately, because sometimes it's hard to tell whether your 3-am GIF humor will translate. Apparently it did. I tweeted the link on May 2, and all of a sudden it was everywhere. I had several people send me the link and tell me to check it out this funny new blog." Her stock response? A GIF of Pee-wee Herman excitedly pointing at himself.
I'm kidding, of course, about the writer/editor relationship, particularly if any of my editors are reading this, because, as Friedman pointed out when I asked about her biggest pet peeve, "The best pieces — and best magazines — are the result of a lot of collaboration." (Is she using that em-dash correctly there? Can someone check? Also, what's an em-dash?)
The blog's not all negative piling on hapless writers, and Friedman loves her job, she says. "The site isn't all about venting frustrations — there are also entries about feeling proud of the magazine or getting an excellent pitch."
She likes it so much, she's not afraid to give out a little free editorial advice either. I started my own Tumblr, Writer Real Talk, to present the other side of the story, I tell her. (Another riff on the concept from the perspective of PR flacks, called 99 Problems But a Pitch Ain't One, has cropped up as well.)
"Ah, of course you know there are way more than two sides to any story," she responds. "But as long as you bring it up, this site could use more editorial consistency. The post titles aren't formatted the same way, and they change structure and tense."
An editor's work is never done.