Still, when I write about this, I can't help but add that this is only a fun job when the original text is beautiful to begin with. Because I remember being a green sub-editor and having a really hard time not making "interventions" to the original when it was... let's just say wanting. I still sometimes turn texts upsidedown when I work through them, it's as if I have to make my presence known in that first draft, if only to erase it in the final one.
But this is all "old-skool" now, because today one is told and encouraged to make one's presence directly visible in all one does. Just last week, in an hour-long digression on the Forbes site, I was amused by the article after article connected to self promotion. "Buy your own dot come," the message read, "in ten years, all hiring will be done via the web."
Links were followed, and I thought with awe that I could still get my very own website - and that there are things I'd be very proud to put on it. But I am not young enough to be rash all the time, and as I put the idea on the backburner, I suddenly realised that I do not aspire to be in the forefront of anything, anymore. I began to think about the people who work behind the scenes: like senators' aides, or the kind of researcher that brings a new body of historical work to light - which other people draw on, or old-skool translators.
And don't you think it's funny that there could be an overall message of everyone needing to stand in the public eye when there is a great need for people behind the scenes? There is a great need for people who want to try to listen and understand something that is not their own. Without it, all we write will be wanting because it will be too narrow in scope, self absorebd. We all know that the self absorbed are social bores and don't make others feel welcome.
This is my argument for anonymity. There is something beautiful in getting good work done, and letting the work have its own life, like a child. Children are gifts, not birthrights. It is a gift to finish beautiful work and let that work, in turn, do its work. Any child laying on their floor reading a book and realising they aren't alone in the world knows what a gift such work is.
What a beautiful aspiration to become camouflaged into the background, to enable good work to trickle into the foreground. To become like the wise men and women of days of old: consulted by people from various walks of life, seeking advice. Being in the background allows one to be parts of many, many things, and also gives one the removed vantage point, which means clarity if one had been a particularly active youth, or has an excess of empathy.