Why is it Called “The Eyrie” Editing and Writing? (Or, How is an Editor like an Eagle?)

had-i-not-created-my
A bit dramatic, yes, but I do relate!

I’ve always been a bit different. I’m one of those who spends a lot of time in the world of my own mind. I am a thinker, an analyser, an imaginer. These are useful qualities in an editor and writer, but it can be jarring when connections I’ve made while ruminating in my inner world run up against reality and I am met with blank looks; it is then that I realize (yet again) that what seems obvious to me is not necessarily obvious to everyone else.

Hence, this post. When I launched The Eyrie Editing and Writing, I ran into a bit more confusion over the (ever so carefully chosen) name than I had expected. Me being me, I didn’t even stop to consider changing the name—smart business move or not, it was too late; I was already attached. So, rather than change it, I wrote this post explaining how I arrived here, through the workings of my imagination.

An eyrie, as defined by English Oxford Living Dictionaries, can be “a large nest of an eagle or other bird of prey, built high in a tree or on a cliff,” or “a high or inaccessible place from which someone can observe what is below them.”

We’ll start with the first definition: the nest of a bird of prey, situated high above. To me, an editor’s skills are analogous to those of an eagle on the hunt. An editor must be—ahem— “eagle-eyed” in their editorial endeavours, zeroing in on every typo, grammar error, and awkward sentence construction. Eagles soar high above the ground, using their keen eyesight and sharp reflexes to seek and home in on their prey. An editor’s job is to review (from above, if you will) the material they are working on, using their sharply honed skills and precision to strike down errors hiding in the forest of words.

eagle-eyrie-silhouette
Surveying its domain.

In the world of writing, words, and grammar, the editor is the eagle on the hunt; their prey, weakness in the work that prevent the writing from being its best. And if an editor is the eagle, what else would we call their home base but their nest, or eyrie?

The second definition of an eyrie—a high or inaccessible place from which one can observe what is below (here you go, Game of Thrones fans)—describes the role of an editor in the writing process. An editor sits in a removed position from the material they are editing; they are the fresh eyes that see the writing from an outside perspective, without emotional attachment.

From their unique vantage point, an editor can review the material as a whole, and more easily pick out what is working and what isn’t. Observing the material from this standpoint gives them the ability to bring out the best in the writing; they’re not personally invested, which allows them to more easily identify changes that could take it to the next level.

We can go further here, as I am a writer as well as an editor, and bring in the writer’s practice. We are all familiar with the image of the solitary writer, working their craft in isolation, observing and evaluating the world from an outside perspective. It is easy to imagine the writer’s workspace—and headspace—as a metaphorical eyrie, a step removed from the rest of the world.

There are a few (actual, literal) eyries along the highways where I live, and during the summer months you can often catch sight of an eagle in its nest, gazing out over the forest, surveying its domain. These sights strike a feeling of awe and wonder in me—they ignite my imagination and send me off into reverie. Like I said, I’m a thinker and a dreamer; my imagination leads me to see connections where not everyone necessarily would.

For me, the connection between an eyrie and my editing and writing practice feels clear. While my actual workspace is merely a cozy nook where I am surrounded by books, words, coffee mugs, and the music that eases me through my day; in my minds-eye, it is my nesting spot from which I observe my domain of words and grammar, where I can dive from above into the work of striking out the weaker bits, choosing just the right words and phrases, and developing the best writing possible.

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