Douglas Gibson goes from editing to writing

First aired on The Next Chapter (6/02/12)

douglas-gibson-profile.jpgDouglas Gibson has spent more than 40 years editing some of Canada's finest literary talents, including Robertson Davies, Alice Munro and Alistair MacLeod. So when it was time for him to finally put pen to paper and write out his memoir Stories About Storytellers, Gibson knew he would be fortunate to have a good editor.

After all, a good editor understands the writer, and knows when to critique and when to leave the words alone.

"Being edited was just fine," he told The Next Chapter's Shelagh Rogers recently. "I was very lucky. Jennifer Knoch, [my editor] at ECW, is a very, very bright young woman."

"I was the model author because early on in my book I say the rule seems to be unvarying, the authors who take a 'don't touch the hair on my baby's head' approach are the first-time authors. So she underlined that and said, 'I hope I don't have to quote this back to you.' She didn't."

So how did the high-profile editor find the experience of writing?

"I've written a rueful account of this that you'll find on a website entitled 'Harder Than I Thought: A Publisher Tries To Write A Book,' and my writer friends were quietly and sympathetically delighted that it was so hard for me," he said.

"I'm a honourary member of the writers union, and I found that when I went to the [annual general meeting] I was among friends who understood how hard it is, and I think only writers know how hard it is to write a book."


Stories About Storytellers

by Douglas Gibson

Buy this book at:

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From the publisher:

"'Spotlighting an extraordinary career, this autobiography reviews the author's accomplishments working --and playing -- alongside some of Canada's greatest writers. These humorous chronicles relate the projects he brainstormed for writer Barry Broadfoot, how he convinced eventual Nobel Prize contender Alice Munro to keep writing short stories, his early morning phone call from a former Prime Minister, and his recollection of yanking a manuscript right out of Alistair MacLeod's own reluctant hands -- which ultimately garnered MacLeod one of the world's most prestigious prizes for fiction. Insightful and entertaining, this collection of tales provides an inside view of Canadian politics and publishing that is rarely revealed, going behind the scenes and between the covers to divulge a treasure trove of literary adventures."

Read more at ECW Press.