The Editor in Sharp Objects

On Sunday, I wrote about writing in my reading journal, which I still think is a good habit to have, even at the age of 37. It helps me keep track of my reading (my post about Goodreads is coming tomorrow) and to process the things I have read. I consume so much longform nonfiction now that I struggle to remember when and where I came across a certain idea, so the journal has been a lifesaver when it comes to research. I have also noticed some patterns in my own life and career.

The stories from last week that inspired me included:

  1. Judy Maggio on Austin homelessness in a Decibel Facebook post and the actual airing on KLRU.
  2. A New York Times Instagram post about the Port Authority ladies’ room.
  3. A book review of The Grammarians, also in the New York Times, from which I receive biweekly email newsletters.

Sometime during my transcription of quotes I liked from the third article, when I was sated but still refusing to stop, I hit on a connected topic I had wanted to write about several months ago but forgotten. All the truly good story ideas by/for/about women inspired me to remember how dearly I loved the male editor in Sharp Objects, and how desperately I want one of my own.

I have not read the Sharp Objects book but did read Gone Girl and am familiar with Gillian Flynn’s journalistic background and Missouri upbringing. A friend had recommended the HBO series to me when it first came out a year ago; when I did finally get around to watching it, the delightful creepiness gave me all the right kinds of chills. Details like the hand-painted silk wallpaper (not to mention the ivory floor) are still haunting me. I think the French director’s postmortem recaps helped, too. Without posting too many spoilers: the male editor’s unwavering support of the main character, an alcoholic journalist, elicited an audible sob from me at one point during the finale.

In real life, I have lost yet another editor; this time, however, it was through no fault of my own. I am possibly about to get a male editor, and I’m apprehensive, to say the least; I have not had the best luck with them. I did some reminiscing, and I realized that I have not had a male editor in over a decade. As a result, I have been replaying a lot of the “learning opportunities” they provided at the start of my career. (This is not a Shitty Media Men type of thing; I just learned early on that I work better with women.)

The male editor in Sharp Objects, however, is a truly good, kind-hearted male editor who provides professional and emotional support to his protégé, even while he undergoes a round of chemotherapy. Near the end of the series, when Camille has written the piece that sums up the emotional journey she has taken, he praises: “That’s beautiful copy.”

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