I write, and I do it quite often. If you’re reading this you probably already know that. I love ranting to an empty page and I adore typing on my keyboard REALLY loudly (I press on the keys really hard; it’s a habit), but that doesn’t mean that my first drafts are as polished as the published work you see. More often than not, my writing needs stringent read-overs and serious refinement. Thanks to the editors in my life, past and present, they’ve made my work something I can be proud of, and they’ve made me a better writer.
Writing always felt very natural to me, but I would be very stubborn and prideful about it in the past. I would refuse to do essay rewrites in middle/high school because I thought the teacher was wrong, even if restructuring just one paragraph would bump my grade up from a B+ to an A. Yeah, it was that bad.
Navigating the transition from broadcast journalism to print journalism was not an easy task, especially with my attitude. I would get so frustrated with my editors, because I felt that the published piece looked nothing like what I had sent in. I had always felt like the one wielding the red pen had some personal vendetta against me, but it was a necessary evil. I almost never self-edited my stuff; I would just send in what I had coughed up onto the keyboard just seconds before. My drafts were always riddled with typos and grammatical errors - an editor’s nightmare.
It got to a point where I felt disappointed and embarrassed about the stuff I was sending in. The article had my name on it, but the published piece wasn’t my words. Editors would send back drafts with 20+ corrections just on grammar and spelling. In the effort to cultivate a stronger voice and to commit myself to better writing, I started self-editing and stopped taking my editors’ critiques as personal attacks. If they wanted to cut a big chunk out, I would try to see why that was beneficial to the piece. Rather than being resistant to changes in angle or structure, I started trying to be cooperative and receptive.
I still kind of give my editors a bit of hell - but I’m a bit better than before. My writing is still too wordy and too long at times. It’ll get confusing to follow at some points. Comma splices and run-on sentences are all too common. But I’d like to think my first drafts are diamonds in-the-rough, who need an experienced and meticulous jeweler to cut, polish, and set the stone to make it something beautiful. With time, I’ll learn how to be a jeweler too - so that I can be someone else’s editor someday, and make shining diamonds at my first go.
While it’s easy to “congratulate” the author on a great article, the praise really needs to go to the editors. Without them, some of my best works - or any of the world’s writing masterpieces - wouldn’t really exist as you and I know them to be.