I just finished reviewing the edited manuscript pages of Voices from the Underground, volume 2, Michael “Mica” Kindman’s story. MSU Press editors did a fine job of editing. They edited lightly, respecting Mica’s writing and my editing, in the same way they edited for volume 1, which will be out hopefully in December (but definitely in January). For that I was grateful. Mica’s story is powerful; the text is graceful. A heavy editing hand would have done the text no good and a lot of harm.
Most of what the house editors did was to insert html coding and bring our text in line with their house style in such areas as the following:
- Comma usage
- Uppercasing or lowercasing
- Spelling out or abbreviating terms
- Spelling out or using digits for numbers.
In addition they raised questions when the text was unclear to them. This, to me, is the area where editors are most useful. If it makes sense to me, does that mean it makes sense to the reader? Usually I can pull myself back from my ego far enough to read from the reader’s perspective but not always. The editor, on the other hand, is always far enough from the writer’s ego. In some cases what I already had was correct. In others, her query and my answer will now give readers a smoother read.
Mica’s story ends with him on the cusp of death but still holding out hope for the future. The foreword by Steven Muchnick, who goes by the name of Rosemary for Remembrance within the Radical Faeries community, brings Mica’s story to a close. No one will read Mica’s story, then Steven’s afterword, then see the photo of the AIDS blanket square with Mica’s name on it and not shed a tear. Hopefully readers also will draw strength from Mica’s courage and humanity.
For me, the most powerful line was at the end of the last chapter of the main text where he wrote, “Getting to write about all of it has been a tremendously healing, and confrontational, experience for me.” I know that I was the person who asked him to tell his complete story and gave him encouragement as he wrote it. So, even though he didn’t say so directly, I took that line as his thank you to me. That was where I shed a tear. He worked on his story for two years, dying of AIDS the whole time. He finally died two months after submitting the final manuscript. I believe he lived those extra two years so he could finish his story.
It deserves a wide audience, not only in book form but on the screen as a record of a tumultuous period that covered the politics of the sixties, the cults of the seventies, and the AIDS tragedy of the eighties.