Today I’m going to stress the importance of authors utilising editors by using references to the modern-day Doctor Who series. I will be talking about the David Tennant version of the Doctor (the tenth doctor), though, because Christopher Eccleston (the ninth version) only had one season and quite frankly it wasn’t as well written as Tennant’s Doctor. Also, I haven’t seen enough episodes of the Matt Smith (the eleventh Doctor) version. Fear not, that will be rectified as my partner bought the Matt Smith DVDs for Easter and we’re about to start watching them.
Last night as we were watching The Waters of Mars 2009 special episode, I realised just how important it was for the Doctor to have a companion. Specifically, he needs a human to help guide him through tricky situations such as Pompeii and the Mars issue.
When the Doctor and his red-headed companion Donna Noble went to Pompeii, the Doctor was convinced there was absolutely nothing he could do to save the people: of course, it was written into history that the volcano would erupt and poison everyone and cover them with ash etc, but the natural disaster was such an enormous event that even the Doctor couldn’t prevent it. He, in effect, chose to sacrifice Pompeii to save the world: which is a fair choice, when you look back on it. But when he wasn’t even willing to save a small family, that’s when Donna stepped in. Through her begging, the Doctor eventually decided to turn back and rescue that family.
Now in the parallels I’m going to draw here, you have to imagine that the Doctor is an author, and his companions are his editors. If the Doctor had his way, he wouldn’t have saved that family. He needed his companion/editor to convince him to change, to make things better, to make himself and the world and all of history. The same goes for an author’s work. An author needs an editor to help make their manuscript better.
And it was. I’m not sure I could have forgiven the Doctor if he’d let that family die.
The next episode I want to talk about is the first David Tennant special of 2009, “Planet of the Dead.” In this episode, the Doctor meets a woman called Lady Christina de Souza who is, in every aspect, a complete and perfect match for him. She is a better fit than any of the previous companions we have seen. She gives as good as she gets, and there’s even a hint of sexual tension. She and the Doctor make the best team out of any female companions we’ve seen so far, even better than Rose and Martha and Donna. However, the Doctor is still stinging from his loss of Donna, his best mate, so he refuses to take Christina with him as his companion, even though she’s so up for it.
In this parallel, I want you to think of the Doctor as going it alone in his publishing endeavour and foregoing an editor alltogether. Although Christina is his perfect match, he refuses to bring a new companion because he’s sick of losing them. He endeavours to travel by himself forever. Christina is, understandably, devastated. If you’ve found the perfect editor, you need to be able to take a blow to your pride by accepting that your manuscript can always be improved. At this point in time, the Doctor thinks his manuscript can’t be improved.
Stay with me as I move on to the next 2009 special, The Waters of Mars. The Doctor doesn’t have a companion in this episode, as he’s just forbidden Christina to travel with him. So he faces this entire episode alone. There’s a major moral choice for him to make, and without the presence of a human companion, eventually he kind of goes insane with his realisation that he’s the last Time Lord and that he can do whatever he wants to history and no one is there to stop him. He tries to change history in a major way, and quite frankly, I really don’t like him at the end of the episode.
So think of it this way: without his usual companion/editor, the Doctor makes a major mistake in trusting his own supremacy. An author will always need an editor to help make them better. No author’s manuscript will ever be as good as it can be without an extra pair of eyes going over it, correcting mistakes and making suggestions. In “The Waters of Mars”, the Doctor doesn’t have a companion/editor, and he’s not as good as I want him to be. He makes a bad decision that would not have been made had he had a good companion/editor with him.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why authors need editors!