Reading, Writing & Rambling proudly introduces guest blogger Amy Rosen, whose employer-issued business card reads, "Writer." She's smart, savvy, and shares DNA with Pat O'Dea Rosen, her mom.
Fiction writers dread revision letters and the copy editor's blue pencil, but writers who work for corporations or non-profits face editing five days a week, fifty weeks a year. It's not a job for the faint-hearted or egocentric.
Whether one writes fiction or non-fiction, some editorial changes hurt more than others. Here's Amy's take on a cut that sliced deep.
I fancy myself a writer by nature. But, I also make my living as a writer. And, after working for a newspaper, a lifestyle website, and a handful of clients and organizations, I’ve gotten used to being edited.
In fact, I appreciate being edited. I *need* to be edited. I have blind spots. I often read through my own mistakes; sometimes, I fail to see bias in my writing; and, I admit to being a little wordy from time to time. In years of seeing my work marked up daily (we’re talking hundreds of thousands of edits. At least), there have been a few times when I’ve thought an editor was unequivocally wrong and made changes that truly weakened the writing.
But, my job is to produce content that is right for my client or employer. And, if they choose to cut My Favorite Sentence to promote one of their priorities, as much as I may not agree, I cannot let the intrinsic writer get the better of the one drawing a paycheck.
Because, ultimately, it is not my name that appears on my work, but the name of the client or organization for which I’m working. My words are theirs. And, they’re not paying me to write The Great American Novel; they’re paying me to write material that furthers their mission.
The rational part of my brain really does understand that, but emotions have always trumped logic for this girl.
And so, when I see a line through a darling sentence or read a butchered, err, restructured version of a once carefully-crafted paragraph, I huff a little. And then, I fire off an e-mail to my mother, who always makes a very reasonable argument for the changes, and who never fails to remind me that few people get to see their words go out unchanged.
She’s right. And, I don’t think I’m such an ace writer that I expect my words to go out unchanged. But, I am a thoughtful writer. I’m a writer who wishes every sentence to be perfectly-strung and who struggles every time she loses a good one.
Steinbeck lobbied Twentieth Century Fox to remove his name from the credits of Lifeboat after learning of unapproved edits to his screenplay. Producer David Selznick made a passionate case for keeping the word “damn” in the script of Gone With the Wind when industry regulators cut it. I, obviously, whine to my mother. How do you handle edits you don’t agree with?