Once in a while this computer of mine gets a mind of its own. At least, that's how I explain a stray comma or a missing word. At Victoria, there was an incredible person who presided over our copy like a general in the field. Mary Morris was our "word" person and one of the best line editors in the business. I think her proudest day may have been when a group of English teachers wrote to compliment us on our use of the language.
As an editor-in-chief, one is the face of the magazine. But everyone knows that many talents have to toil to put out a good product month after month. Mary was an unseen hand, and what I liked about her most was she never made compromises. And she often kept me on track. Her rewrites were impeccable. No copy was considered unimportant. A caption in Favorite Things always included extra information that the reader wouldn't have missed if it weren't there. And Mary had writers she relied on who were great researchers. One writer once told me that Mary made her a better writer by simply reminding her that she didn't have to tell the reader what one could plainly see; she was to dig deeper than that. Caption writing is an art and Mary is a master. The next time you read a magazine caption, see if it passes the Mary Morris rule.
I don't get to see Mary as often as I'd like. We manage a lunch with a former colleague now and then--and there is the momentous birthday party that brings us all together. I miss our everyday encounters with words, and I sure miss her taking a sharp point to my writing. (I've been hitting the keys pretty hard these days with one book in proof stage and a new one piling up pages of raw copy.) But I guess this is one of those situations where one has to be thankful for what we had for as long as we had it. I learned a lot from Mary Morris, and so did the millions of readers of Victoria. Tip your hat: She deserves it.