Michael Chabon is widely considered one of the best fiction writers in
His books may have won Pulitzer Prizes and been made into movies, but all that fame and glory doesn’t make it any easier to turn out a good novel. Chabon’s newest book, The Yiddish Policemen’s
"Over the following drafts, Mr. Chabon's editor, Courtney Hodell, would mail manuscripts overnight from New York to Mr. Chabon's Berkeley, Calif., office with detailed notes penciled in the margins. (Mr. Chabon describes them half-jokingly as "vandalized.") After HarperCollins's 2005 decision to delay publication, Ms. Hodell flew to Berkeley and spent the day with Mr. Chabon. They ordered sandwiches and went through the manuscript page by page. "He's a writer of terrific extravagance in the language but great subtlety on the emotional side," says Ms. Hodell. "A lot of what I was doing was coaxing him to come a little closer to the reader."
In the publishing world, it is rare to get this much attention. Many writers barely get edited by their publishers. But HarperCollins paid at least a million dollars for this book, so they put in the effort to make sure it was good.
Despite the back story, Chabon’s efforts should encourage all writers, experienced or aspiring. The essence of good writing is rewriting. Period. Even when you have already won a Pulitzer.