On Editing & Being Edited

Matt Gemmell, in a thoughtful piece on his experiences with writing:

Editing. Editing. Editing. It’s all in the edit. Writing is easy; editing is hard. You’re paying for the edit, not the words. Write for yourself, edit for your readers. There is nothing more important than editing.

All of those statements are absolutely, fundamentally true. Editing is crucial. Like all writers, I should really do more of it. When you ask a writer for their tips on editing, they’ll respond in the panicked, embarrassed manner of a European being asked by an American to translate a Latin inscription2; they feel they should have definitive knowledge on the subject, but they can probably only bluff their way through in the hope that the other person doesn’t know enough to contradict them.

I like to think I'm pretty diligent when it comes to self-editing my work. I read through my final drafts four or five times, each time always finding little errors, and adding/deleting things. This is how all of the writing on this site is done. I am my own editor, because no one writes here but me.

That said, It's been a learning experience, going through my freelancing journey, to be overseen by a professional editor. Glenn Fleishman at The Magazine put "Re-Enabled" through a rigorous editing process, in which we must've revised my article a half-dozen times. Glenn's critiques were terrific, and I learned a lot about writing professionally. Though Glenn works hard to maintain an author's voice, I'm certain that "Re-Enabled" wouldn't have turned out as great as I did were it not for his guidance.

Being edited isn't easy, to be sure — I always get nervous whenever submitting a first draft — but I find it to also be very comforting. I write so much for myself, so much for my eyes only until I hit Publish in MarsEdit or Poster, that it's refreshing having another pair of eyes look at my work. I enjoy the feedback and the collaboration, and I think my writing has gotten better because of it.