Tuesday, October 2, 2012

About being edited for the first time, and doing editing

Just recently, I had two pieces of my fiction edited.  Two totally different pieces, totally unrelated to each other, edited by two totally different people, also totally unrelated to each other.  

Now I am 51, and I have been writing since high school, which was back in 1976-1979.  And this was the first time that my stuff had been edited by a person other than me.  To say that I didn't like the experience is putting it mildly.  And I have come to the conclusion that most editors will try to rewrite your stuff.  

Now one piece was for a blog, and was a 2 page short story.  When I got it back, the opened file looked like it had been in a knife fight and had lost. There was red all over.  The other one was something I am working on, and was looked at by a friend of a friend.  I didn't agree with what he said in the way of editing.  

Well, between the two, it put me in a bad mood; so I went on facebook and made a status post, and vented, as many people do when something gets them in a bad mood.  Here is some of what I posted:

To me, a good editor does the following:
-- looks for typos,
-- looks for spelling errors,
-- looks for wrong word use, i.e. their instead of there
-- looks for places where a sentence might be reworded to make it flow and read better,
-- looks for really glaring grammar errors, such as missing commas or using wrong punctuation or run on sentences and such. 
I also commented about how this experience had given me clarity as to the type of editor that I wanted to be.  You see, over the past several years, my husband and I have had some hard times.  And the last two years in particular have been really hard.  I haven't been able to work for years now due to physical issues, which made my husband the sole source of our income.  But back in 2010, he had to go to working part-time because of his bad knees.  And in 2011, he was fired; and about a month after he was fired, he was diagnosed with cancer.  Now he is cancer free, and on disability, and through with working.  I decided to try to get into doing some editing work to make some extra money.  I had excellent spelling and grammar skills, and work experience that enhanced this endeavor.  Plus I had something that you can't teach, and that is error radar.  So I thought, why not.

I want to be the type of editor who helps the author find the typos and spelling errors and obvious grammar errors and when the wrong word is used.  I want to point out where a sentence might be reworded to flow better in the story.  But I don't want to rewrite their work.  

I was, and am, grateful for the insight this has given me.  It has shown me that I hate having someone else edit my work.  My writing is my child, my creation.  It has also given me insight about doing editing.

But the real kicker on this whole thing came when I got online today.  It was then that I discovered that one of the editors had found my post and had responded in a rather personal way in the form of 3 comments to my post.  I used the handy facebook feature which allowed me to remove the comments.  Why the editor did this is beyond me, and why the editor took it so personally baffles me.  Shouldn't a good editor accept beforehand that the writer may not accept their editing?  Don't we writers have the option to reject an editor's editing?  After all, it is our work, and not theirs.  Isn't it somewhat unprofessional of an editor to take an author's rejection of their editing personally?  Just wondering.

Thus more insight for me as I throw my hat into the editing field.  Note to me:
  - do not take it personally with an author rejects my editing of their work;
  - do not be surprised if an author should react in a negative or hostile manner to my editing;
  - to avoid the above, edit with a light hand;
  - when editing, respect the author's writing style.

And why have I done this post?  What is the moral of the story? 
I'm not sure if there is a moral to all this.  It's just an experience I had, and have learned from.  And I did it because I wanted to, and this is my blog, and I get to say what I want here.

In conclusion, I will close with the following thought:
How would editors of today have handled the works of Twain, or Shakespeare, or Edgar Rice Burroughs, or Hemingway, and the like? How would they have edited and criticized their works?
How were those works edited?  Were they edited by another at all?

Some things to think about.
-- jd --

1 comment:

  1. Thoughtful one, especially your conclusion, liked this :-)