Being Edited or Having a Root Canal: Which Would You Choose?

The truth is, I hate to be edited.

My last post was about sending the second draft of my condor feature story out for comments. I presented a sunny façade, but don’t be fooled. Like everyone else who writes, I find being edited only slightly less painful than having a root canal.

This is because sometimes, a manuscript comes back in unrecognizable form. I’ve seen editors rewrite a text so it conforms to the music in their heads instead of the song in the writer’s heart. When that happens, it hurts.

One editor (not at Views—on a freelance piece for another magazine) misunderstood what I was trying to do with the timeline of a narrative. Instead of saying, “This confused me. What did you intend?” he just moved everything around.

Now, I thought what I was trying to do with the timeline was pretty neat. But if it didn’t work, I was ready to try something else. I’m a writer. A real writer never has just one option. There are lots of ways of telling a story.

I wasn’t given the chance to revise, just the choice: “We’ve edited the heck out of this. Take it or leave it.” I took it, of course. We all want to get published.

Don’t get me wrong: When I hand over a manuscript, I do want it to be edited. But to me, that means errors are pointed out, and questions asked if the language is unclear. The editor is a manuscript’s first reader. I want to know what my readers think. If I haven’t covered my topic well or told a good story, tell me. Is my opening weak? Does my ending fail to tie things up with a bang? Let me know. I’m a writer—I’ll fix it.

Not all editors or commenters conceive their role the way I do, of course. So as a writer, sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, choose your battles wisely, and remind yourself that this collaborative process has an end point (thank goodness).

So, getting comments back on my condor story hasn’t been all roses and sunshine … and there are still a few reviews left to survive. But I’ve taken the edits so far and revised the story, and I’ll say this without hesitation: It’s stronger because people have given it their thoughtful attention.

So we’ll make it, I think.

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2 thoughts on “Being Edited or Having a Root Canal: Which Would You Choose?

Add yours

  1. I’d rather have a root canal by a competent dentist than be edited by an “editor” who hears only to the music in their head instead of the song in the writers heart.

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