I haven’t always known how to edit. I have a master’s degree in English lit, but my education did not prepare me for my career as an editor. No, I learned to edit afterwards, on the job. My process is one of many, I’m sure, but I want to tell you about it. It sheds some light on what I’m seeking from this blog, I think.
Before I begin to edit something, I try to learn from the writer what they expect in the final product. I gather the appropriate style guide, dictionary, and any other reference materials. I find a quiet place to work uninterrupted. I take a moment to clear my mind and focus on my work. For me, editing is almost meditative. I need to completely focus on the writing, turning each word, each phrase, over in my mind to ascertain its meaning and clarity. I try to make my queries objective, to be minimally invasive in the writing.
When I edit, I pay complete attention to the writing in front of me. The words become the most important thing in the world to me, if only for the brief time that I am editing them. I seek to understand the words, in the smallest sense – of spelling, punctuation – to the largest – of theme and message. As an editor, I care more about being present for the writing than about changing it in any essential way.
So, edit me: Read my words. Give them your undivided attention. Offer me your constructive criticism or your compliments. Am I who I think I am? Or, as I suspect, is there more to me than that?