Friday, March 4, 2011

Editing Life

As an editor, I am confounded by the number of writers who refuse editing; insisting that their work is perfect as it stands. It is especially disheartening to hear this proclamation from novice writers who stand firm in the certainty that their religious beliefs, combined with divine inspiration, somehow exempts them from the issues of grammar, punctuation, subject-verb agreement and numerous other problems that writers new and seasoned inevitably have with their work.

It takes a great degree of arrogance to believe that one’s work is exempt from the entirety of the writing process; that we can simply write without regard to the consequences of the process. I learned very early in my writing career that any work can benefit from a critique, regardless of its source of inspiration. The lessons of the editing process are valuable for one’s work and life.

Every critique I endure is an invitation to improve upon my voice and to examine my way of life. For instance, an editor once told me that I have a tendency to write in “code”. I was encouraged to simply say what must be said. I could trace that observation back to my personal life. The result has been that I am more diplomatically direct in both my creative and personal voice. I reserve the cloak and dagger tendencies in my writing for the most appropriate moments.  

My life and my writing must be edited to accommodate the time and space bestowed upon me by the generosity of the universe. Otherwise, words and opportunities wander aimlessly and may be, consequently, all together lost.

I am more willing than ever to change what must be changed for the good of my work and to accommodate the forces keeping me in touch with my desires and purpose. I wish that new writers would welcome the eye of experience on their creative and personal pursuits. Each of us can benefit from a bit of editing; whether in our writing or in our life.

To be certain, our first draft is never our last.