In my early writing I found myself surprised by how much better my words were after they had gone through an editor’s hands. It was difficult to understand how another could tell my story with my words better than I could! With time, I worked up the courage to ask.
“Editing is like an echo. The person who speaks does the hard work. All I have to do is hear and respond with perspective (distance).”
I have come to appreciate a good editor. They take my jumbled words and confusing intent and turn in into something that I recognize but did not say with clarity and brevity. When done right, editors offer a priceless gift.
I have come to see good friends as my life editors. They do not always get it right, however most of the time they do what I cannot. Specifically, they can see what I am too close to see. What is blurry to me is often clearly in focus to them. Additionally, they are able to put my confusion into perspective. What seems complex, chaotic, and uncertain is often quite simple with the addition of their insight and reflection.
There is a catch to the process. Editors only have the permission writer’s give them. A writer does not have to accept an editor’s suggestions. The key lies in the conversation between the two parties. In my experience, it is important for the writer to hear with an openness that does not come naturally. To hear, one must be intentional.
The process often comes back to me as a reminder. How willing am I to hear the truth? I would like to believe I am, but if I listen to my echo I wonder. I listen to a writer giving feedback, and I am not sure I would be open. His words then were direct and to the point. “When one of you says, ‘I’m on Paul’s side,’ and another says, ‘I’m for Apollos,’ aren’t you being totally infantile?” (1 Corinthians 3.4)
Life’s possibilities increase with my willingness to hear life’s echo.