Yuka Igarashi has a nice piece at Granta on a topic close to my heart; the whole thing is worth reading, but I’ll quote the peroration:
There is a danger to copy-editing. You start to read in a different way. You start to see the sentence as machinery. You focus on the gears and levers that connect words to one another; you hunt for the wayward semicolon, the unintentionally ambiguous phrase, the clunky repeated word. You even hope they appear, so you can kill them. You see them when they’re not even there, because you relish slashing your pen across the paper. It gets a little twisted.
As with any kind of technical knowledge or specialization, it is possible to take copy-editing too far, to be ruled by it, to not quite be able to shut it off when it ought to be shut off.
Ultimately, though, I don’t actually think it diminishes the pleasures of reading. The idea of a pure reading experience is a myth, anyway, because purity is a myth. I’m not willing to believe that attending to details or reading very carefully is ever a bad thing. A sentence is, in fact, a machine, an intricate and delicately balanced equation; good copy-editing – good editing more generally – is a way to help a writer get the equation so exactly right that it starts to not seem like one at all. Many times a day, I’ll be hunched over a paragraph, wondering whether a particular pronoun has the correct antecedent, whether one independent clause should be dependent, and suddenly I’ll be caught off guard by a stunning turn of phrase or find myself jolted by a perfectly articulated insight. The power that writing can have, at these times, far outstrips the power it would have were I merely a so-called casual reader. I might be a freak, and ruined for life, but I’m resigned to – no, happy with – this fate.