You should know better than to edit your wife’s novel.


THIS HAS NOT BEEN a particularly good or an easy week.

And it’s all my fault.

Most things are.

You see, I’ve been around a long time.

I’ve had a few ups and a lot of downs.

I know the difference.

Still, I stood up, smiled, and before God and everybody committed literary suicide.

I don’t know why.

I certainly knew better than to do what I did.

I agreed to edit my wife’s novel, Mah-Jongg Murders.

It’s been published once.

Linda decided she didn’t like it.

She didn’t simply take the novel down from Amazon.

She ripped it off.

Somebody had found three typos.

Linda’s an English teacher.

She believes three typos are akin to treason.

She corrected the typos.

She decided to make a few changes in her story.

Nothing important, she said.

Six months later, she had added thirty thousand words.

I want you to edit the book, she said

I smiled.

I said I would.

Fools are born that way.

I sat down and began playing a game that’s a cross between solitaire and Russian roulette.

During my career, I have edited a lot of copy.

Magazine articles.

Film scripts.



It’s a simple process.

I make changes.

I make revisions.

I make suggestions.

I send the manuscript back to the writer for approval.

I move on.

It doesn’t work that way when you edit your wife’s novel. Conventional wisdom says to never take a knife, scissors, hedge trimmers, or even fingernail clippers to your wife’s novel.

Think an edit can’t bleed?

Think again.

They’ve even written books about the subject.

Four come immediately to mind.

To Hell and Back.

The Mask of the Red Death.

Death Wish.

In Cold Blood.

Linda heard my suggestions.

She read my revisions.

She scanned over my corrections.

She cut her eyes sharply toward me.

Linda said nary a word.

She didn’t have to.

By now, I can read her mind.

Five movies came immediately to mind.


The Exorcist.

Night of the Living Dead

Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Dead Men Don’t Dance.

You did a really good job, I said.

She didn’t answer.

I loved how you added a new subplot, I said.

She glared at me.

The hook at the end was perfect, I said.

She walked out the door.

She didn’t look back.

Two books came immediately to mind.

Vengeance Is Mine.

And War.

It used to be War and Peace.

The Peace was missing.

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