On Being Edited


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I am now happy to say that I am a published author! I got to see some of my words in print. It’s only a little community newspaper that comes with our local rag every Wednesday, and I’m afraid there’s been no talk of monetary compensation as it’s a “readers’ column”. But I got to see a piece I wrote printed on dead trees! It also brought home to me quite forcefully that I need to get some decent headshots taken. Note to self: contact lovely photographer who did such a magnificent job on son’s Bar Mitzvah pictures. But I digress.

So why am I whining about being edited? Because I had the unpleasant surprise of seeing some of those words I had so lovingly crafted … altered. Changed to formulations I consider pedestrian or even ungrammatical, or cut altogether. I was well within the word-count limit I was provided, so length is unlikely to have been a factor. Somebody just went to town on my words, because they could. How dare they!

I really shouldn’t be surprised. The CBC did that once while I was blogging for them, I complained vociferously and after that they didn’t alter a single comma. But my sig tag in recent weeks has been a quote from H.G. Wells: “No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.” I have edited and cut with little mercy in other people’s copy. So why am I so upset about taking my medicine? I think I would have been completely fine with it if I thought the column actually improved from the editing. As is probably already abundantly clear, I don’t think so. But don’t take my word for it, as they say; judge for yourself.

Compare the published article with the original. It’s not a bad article as it stands, really it’s not. Many people have read it and expressed kind words to me. I am just exceedingly frustrated because I think my original was better. Maybe I’m being arrogant and elitist, but I really do. I’m trying to figure out how to express my feelings to the editor without alienating him to the point of never writing for this particular group again.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter! 

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5 Responses to “On Being Edited”

  1. Lynne Thompson Says:

    Honey, you know I am with you. I have been edited well (and it is a joy) and I have been edited thoughtlessly, by people who don’t edit as well as myself, and it is a PAIN. HUGS

  2. zohar Says:

    it seems to me that they took out places that could have been interpreted as criticism or hurtful — they took out the analogy to animals in the zoo — I know you meant the opposite, but we know that just the mention already puts it in people’s minds, even if you negate it. ANd they took out the mention of the missions evangalical past — lo nora. Its a beautiful article. I’m amused that you are more excited about it and count it as a publication, where your scientific publications don’t count at all. Keep on trukin babe

  3. Dr. Eviatar Says:

    Thanks … well, the scientific publications did not exactly have an extensive readership, and the last one came out in 2000. So yeah, this is new territory and it is exciting ;-).

    My friend Natalie said that the zoo thing was a cliche. She may well be right, she has a good eye for that sort of thing. But maybe it should have been rewritten rather than just cut.

    I’m thinking that my main issue really is that I had NO say in what was cut or changed (and it really annoys me that they inserted “the” in front of the word occasion – such an occasion that we went to Siloam Mission …). I’ve written to the editor saying that I appreciate that every writer needs an editor, but that I’d like to be part of that process in future. We’ll see if he has so many writers for that column that he just dumps me …

  4. Eliyahu L. Says:

    Dr. E, I am indeed sorry for the hazing you received. Alas. I dread the idea of having the same happen to me if I ever get to the wonderful “being published” phase that you have hit. Yet I can understand the editor’s need for prettifying the piece (their version is a bit more lighthearted, even if in a way like processed cheese) so that other clean suburbanites would perhaps feel more encouraged to do the same. Just a thought.
    But much more important is that you and the kids did it! Here bar/bat mitzvahs have their “mitzvah project” which has a glossy sheen of ‘okay, now I’ve learned how to be good, so I’m good’ but your experience here seems real, and I got that in both versions even if moreso in your original, and it made me happy that you did it.

  5. Hadass Says:

    Thanks, Eliyahu! Wow, I really need to get in and clean up those old posts!! BTW this was over a year ago and he never edited me again ;-).

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