Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You are only as good as your last editor

Today, I was reminded about one of the harsh truths of a writer's life: You are only as good as your last editor.

The reminder came in the form of looking at the published copy of something that I sold, and realizing that the title used was wrong. The title was from the month before, and now what I wrote for this month makes no sense at all.

I know how the problem happened. A form is being used for this particular publication, and they simply swap one article for another as they put the publication together. This month, they simply forgot to change the title along with the article.

Heck, I have made the same type of mistake myself on occasion. The only sad part (besides confusing readers) is that this publication is in hard copy form, so the mistake exists in a couple thousand copies. Fortunately, it has a short shelf life, and next month all the current copies will have been recycled.

Another reminder of this fact of life today came in the form of my midterm for Latin America Colonial history. What I turned in was in dire need of editing; then again, most of my homework tends to be in need of editing. It is what happens when you write something just hours before it is due, and turn it in (email it) to the professor just minutes after you are done writing it.

I will admit that I have trouble editing myself. Tense problems, mainly. Point of view problems, secondly.

The only way that I can effectively edit myself is to allow something to sit long enourgh to forget what I wrote, so that I can see what I actually wrote instead of what I think that I wrote. Needless to say, this is not always an option.

If there is any doubt that one needs to be aware of this type of stuff, I would like to mention something I saw on the way home. I passed a vacant lot, and noticed that it had two "for sale" signs up. Both from the same real estate agent. One sign had the phone number 303-xxx-4816; the other sign 303-xxx-8416. I suspect that this person is also self-editing. I also suspect that they do not know why they do not get half of their phone calls either.

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