Editors & (Crushed) Egos

A week spent reviewing my copy editor’s suggestions reminded me how painful — and valuable — editing can be for a writer.

I feel for writers who haven’t been edited hundreds and hundreds of times, as I was during my journalism career. Those 20-plus years of daily edits grew quite a rhino hide over my tender ego.

I can still recall the pain of those blue pencil marks — my perfect prose slashed by a heartless editor who may have given my story a five-minute read. ( Before the advent of red and blue underlined Track Changes in MS Word or its equivalent, we used blue pencils on buff copy paper.)
blue pencil art

Old fashioned blue-pencil editing

But, my old copy editor would say, ‘It’s about the reader, dummy.’

It was — and is.

So when I opened the copy-edited files of my forthcoming memoir*, I viewed the tracked changes with more interest than dismay.

These marks were going to make the book better, the reader’s job easier, and me look brighter.

Just for the record, the manuscript runs 77,600 words over 330 pages. The edits: Only 1,686. That’s only five edits per page. And most of those were Oxford commas, a new thing for me.

So, on behalf of my readers who are spared those five mistakes per page, I say thank you, Sylvia, for the great editing job.

* Much more about that later, but it’s called “HIDDEN WAR: A Memoir of America’s Secret Crusade in Laos.”

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One thought on “Editors & (Crushed) Egos

  1. I dropped use of the comma before and while in High School. Perhaps I have been incorrect since then though our journalism teacher, a former newspaper staffer insisted on that practice. We liked her and the idea stuck. It also seemed a waste of commas when and was the conjunction.

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