Are editors supposed to interpret the works they edit? The manuscript I said I'd be reading exceeds the high expectations I had for it . . . but I keep feeling myself interpreting what I read instead of editing it. Focusing on ideas instead of the rare infelicitous sentence puts me in a strange position vis-a-vis authorial intent. I suspect I can help shape the communication of intent . . . but that means I have privileged access to authorial intent when all I really have is privileged access to the author. I am an author of a reader or a reader of an author. Can't tell which. All of which brings to mind Octavia Butler's running commentary on the meaning of her short stories in Bloodchild. In the introduction she complains that
Before now, other people have done all the print interpretations of my work: "Butler seems to be saying . . . " "Obviously, Butler believes . . . " "Butler makes it clear that she feels . . . "
Actually, I feel that what people bring to my work is at least as important to them as what I put into it. But I'm still glad to be able to talk a little about what I do put into my work, and what it means to me. (x)
Her "to them" trips me up. She acts imperially here without seeming to by declaring that what other people think "important to them" pales in comparison to what "[she does] put into [her] work." So when I read those commentaries I found myself disputing not with the text but Butler's authorial fiat of "what [she puts] into it." All of which points to my strange relation to the manuscript I'm reading: I am a reader who thinks certain things about the novel important to me but have the potential to be authorial in the sense that I can influence its author to put into the novel what is important to me. Where do I stand?
I don't know . . . but from a theoretical perspective this editorial experience has been as exhilirating as reading the novel itself has been.