Yesterday was a day of writing. Today is a day of editing.
I enjoy editing even more than writing. Though I’ve improved my planning process (outlining rocks!), I often find myself writing far more than I need. By last night, for example, I found myself with 3500 words written for a 2500 word paper.
It’s in trimming from a draft toward a final product that I come to understand my work. Determining what to keep and what to cut tells you a lot about your thoughts. I wonder sometimes about the editing process behind pieces I read. When faced with an almost-convincing argument, I wonder if some evidence was dropped to fit a word count. (I wonder this because I often must do the same.) When faced with a near-perfect phrase, I wonder how much though went into choosing those key words.
I’ve long enjoyed editing. (Highschool friends will attest to this, given my frequent offers to edit their papers.) The relationship between editor and writer is a special one; I’ve found this to be especially the case when I was lucky enough to be the editor.
As Sameer Vasta says, editing can teach us “to be ever more curious.” It can also lead you to a professional career specialized in the particularities of the English language—Mary Norris, The New Yorker’s comma queen, demonstrates just how exciting that can be. Sometimes, of course, to be an editor requires, in the wise words of Mandy Brown, “recognizing when you’re not needed.” In editing the great work of others, your time is not wasted; instead, you can savour their writing.
I have more to say on the subject, but that will have to wait. Today is a day of editing.
If you’ve ever something you’d like read over, whether for content or for style, I’d be delighted to. That special relationship between writer and editor is one that I cherish—it deepens friendships by teaching you about one another. In the meantime, all the best for the week ahead.
Sent on March 11th, 2018.