Writers and painters and stand-up comics and other creative types where solitude is so critical—these folks often think that the pair phenomenon is for others. But creative intimacy is so much more than “collaboration.” In writing especially, the problem of the hidden partner is rife. Most good editors don’t talk about what they do. It’s often indiscrete, or even disrespectful. I just heard the story of a magazine editor who lost his job because he’d lost the confidence of his writers by talking so promiscuously about how he rescued their work. Michael Pietsch, who edited David Foster Wallace, said that “The editor works in disappearing ink. If a writer takes a suggestion, it becomes part of her creation. If not, it never happened. The editor’s work is and always should be invisible.”
And some writers don’t even have an editor yet, or an agent, but many of the same functions of muse, critic, sounding board—these get played by members of writing workshops, spouses, special readers. (John McPhee calls them his “listeners.”)"