Monday, May 26, 2008

Writing vs. Editing

In writing, as in life, it is often far easier to find the faults in others than to see them in ourselves. In life, we almost always see the faults in others, along with knowing exactly what they need to do to "fix" the fault and just how it negatively affects them in their daily life. Meanwhile, we are either unaware of the same fault in ourselves, or choose to say "well, that's just me, deal with it."

G has so kindly referred to me as something along the lines of "Master Editor" of this blog. The truth is, I've always enjoyed editing far more than writing - I would glance at friends' papers in high school and immediately see a number of ways to improve, spruce up, or spice up even rather decent essays. In college, I did the same with papers and theses, sometimes getting paid for doing something that I actually enjoyed doing. Now, I'll take a look at posts or papers or books for people, and I'll still note which parts are unclear, which are too complicated, and which are simply boring.

And yet... my own writing is just not all that great. It's generally easy to read, and that's worth something, but it's not particularly deep, rarely written particularly well, and outside of slightly rewriting a sentence I'm in middle of, almost never gets edited. In fact, unless I was made to, I never had a "draft" in school - I just churned out the essay or paper and handed it in. Rewrite? Look for mistakes? Care to change from what I wrote the first time? These ideas always were foreign to me... best to just write it once, well, and that was it. If anything, I took my extra care in advance: While some may call this procrastination, I would generally spend time sitting with an open but empty Word document while I surfed the internet, reading, writing, checking my fantasy baseball team, and the like, while thinking about how I am going to format my essay - what it will be about, what parts I should leave out or insert, what points I wish to drive home - and then I'd start writing at about 12:30 (or 1, or 2...) in the morning and finish a little while later.

But editing... editing I can almost always do. There's something fun and interesting about editing. Perhaps it's the lack of pressure involved: If you miss something, it's not your "mistake". Perhaps it's the efficiency aspect: With very little work, a person can take something that's okay, or even decent, and turn it into something far better. Perhaps it's the ability to read or learn something new or interesting or important and take part in its getting out there for others to read. Perhaps it's a combination of all of these, really. Whatever it is, there's just something about editing that's fun and interesting that I enjoy even more than the writing itself.