The Right Job for the Fool

via Wikimedia Commons
Why do I edit?

Why do I put myself through the wringer? Sometimes I scramble to find the time to edit before the deadline when my day job crushes my schedule. Sometimes I hit a brick wall and have no idea how to express what needs to happen to improve the manuscript. Sometimes I wait for a manuscript to arrive after clearing my schedule so I'll have time to focus on it. Sometimes my edits are flat-out wrong for the project.

These are hard situations to face, but I keep finding myself coming back to editing.

Editing isn't all rainbows and puppies. It's not like my red pen finds issues and flies off to mark them on its own. It's not sitting on a manuscript for "long enough" and giving feedback that your client wants to hear. It's not detailing spec changes and dictating things which are Absolutely Correct.

It's art.
It's politics.
It's work.
Sometimes it's hard work.
But it's about making things better than they already are.
It's helping people notice their own behaviors and questionable decisions.

And I find it tremendously satisfying.

What's the difference between a critic and an editor?
A critic tells you "This is crap."
An editor tells you "This is crap, but here's why it's crap, and here are some ideas to make it less crappy."

As an editor I get paid to ask questions, look at things from a different perspective, and tell the truth. I think that's awesome, and I keep coming back to it.

I've done my share of screwing up, and I've gotten discouraged and frustrated. I've had my share of Impostor Syndrome. I'm sure I'll screw up and feel like a total fraud again and again, questioning if continuing to do this makes any kind of sense. But any work will do that to you.

New gigs provide new opportunities to make things better, to spit wisdom and drop bombs not through a mic but through notes on a page. New gigs are blank walls, and you're handing me a toolbox full of spray paint to make my mark. But when I'm done, all people will see is your artwork shining brighter than it did before.

I don't get bored with it. I don't get tired of it. Heck, there are times I don't care if I get paid for it.

I love doing the work, hard times and all. It excites me. It feeds me and makes me feel useful, even if only one person ever knows the impact I had.

And I'm thankful.

To everyone I've worked with over the past 2+ years:
Thank you for trusting me with your infant ideas, swaddled in electrons and paper.
Thank you for asking for the truth, and for accepting feedback with grace.
Thank you for letting me be a partner in your creative process.

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