To anyone who asks, I maintain that good editing is comparable to making the perfect pizza. You don’t want to overdo it or underdo it, or you’ll end up with an indigestible product. Plus, everybody’s got an opinion on how much is enough.
Although it’s tempting to get intoxicated by the editing power one has (I wield the mighty red pen! FEAR ME!!!), good editing is a matter of knowing the right rules and using good judgment. It’s not just a matter of checking punctuation, spelling and basic facts, but it’s also about ensuring that a project is well-written and flows from one paragraph to another in a logical way.
And sometimes it’s necessary for an editor to consult the titans of writing styles, such as the Associated Press Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style and the Government Printing Office Style Manual, in order to settle debates. These mighty tomes help you banish any lingering doubts expressed by writers who object to your alterations of their carefully crafted text. (Writers get really feisty when that happens and may challenge you to a duel of red pens at twenty paces. But what editing must be done, must be done.)
Overall, a good editor creates the best possible product with the available tools such as red pens and keyboard delete buttons. But editing is marvelous fun, too: You get a unique window into someone else’s thoughts and a different view of the world later.