Monday, November 26, 2012

Can There Be Joy In Editing?

I often feel like beating my head against a table unceremoniously. The reason? Simple, finding an error in a piece I've already published. It makes my ears turn red just thinking about it.

The ironic thing is that when I was at school it never really bothered me. If I had a few red marks on my college paper I didn't feel like an idiot so much as I felt like I had been robbed of time before I turned in the assignment. Procrastination was a friend that I kept at bay mostly by being constantly busy. However, in my super senior year (that's year five for those of those who are curious) I contracted the infamous, Senioritis. Everything I did was last minute and I had little guilt. I just lost the will to care at that point. Mainly because no one ever marked me down enough on grammar to make me care. So I didn't.

Now, when writing for the public eye, I often wonder if my grammar is correct. I fret over comma placement like I haven't fretted since my elementary grammar tests. I constantly reference books on what I should be doing in regards to punctuation, and am constantly checking my use of affect and effect, usually twice before my work gets sent out. It's nerve wracking and I often find myself feeling like a degenerate when my German mother finds errors before I do.

Before I tear myself down any further I will add, that these last couple of months at Penumbra have started to re-instill the basic grammar I've been neglecting throughout my education. I can, and often do, find my own errors and do not need to have them pointed out to me. Typically. No one has the perfect first draft, it is usually filled with errors. I just find it ironic that I'm working for a magazine and don't know all the basics by heart. It's another one of those, "How did I get away with this?" questions.

To be honest in all of writing, editing is my least favorite task. You can edit as you go, but  it almost never ends up catching all of the errors. It's the method I usually did at school because it was quick and PAINLESS. I know it's silly, but it often hurt my pride to find those silly little errors. Quick and painless, however, were based in pride, and as the saying goes, "Pride comes before a fall."

I know time with my paper (or even my blog, yes I'm aware there are a few pieces I haven't edited here) would solve many of my problems. However, I always get the feeling right before I edit like someone is dragging their nails down a chalk board. While I'm doing it there is not problem and afterwards I usually feel secure. It's those minutes before that drive me crazy. I feel like I'm having a confrontation with my weakness and I, like many, don't like it.

So the question becomes is there a way to find joy in editing? To face yourself and not only be comfortable doing so, but enjoy doing it. You might be thinking this girl is nuts! Who equates editing with self worth? Well, the answer is a career writer. A career writer should care about the quality of their work. Deadlines should never be an excuse. Though, I admit, it's often deadlines I blame for my lack of editing.

Maybe if I start placing my pride in my ability to edit, I can change my mindset. When that happens I think I will truly find that joy in writing. In reworking and refining what I have into the best pieces I can make.

That and my proverbial head will enjoy not being bruised by repeated drops onto a hard table and my ears can keep their normal pale color.

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