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Editing Writing or Did I Write That?

May 12, 2017

Maybe this irritates you too. I constantly read writing advice I have no plans to follow. Is that a waste of time or is it just reading stuff I dislike so I can actively ignore it? Well, a little of both. No, I'm not just going to write and worry about what I wrote later. No I'm not writing a first draft and have someone edit it, no I'm not writing a novel in thirty days. No, I'm not writing an outline for a book backwards.


Can you tell I'm an obsessive editor? I edit as I write. I guess as I look at it, how I edit is a leftover from the military. Back then I wrote Operations Procedures and test questions and it seemed I was always on the clock somehow. So, I can't pass up a bad sentence, the wrong word, improper use of a noun, missing commas or too many commas, being a "He" man or a "She" man. I compulsively edit what I write as I write it.


Obsessive editors can be their own worst enemies. I know that in the past I fiddled with details and lack of detail so badly, I'd go away from it for a while then come back to it and wonder, "Did I write that?" Of course being an obsessive editor, I rewrote it. I mean, it's not like I had Sue say something sixteen different ways until I finally settled on what she really said. That would add compulsion to my obsession.


So you let Aunt June read your manuscript after its been edited about 100 times. The worst comment Aunt June could make is, "There's not enough detail." I feel like Charlie Brown's teacher going "Wah, wah wah, wah wah!" The next 100 edits are on the way. The weird thing is, if I hire an editor to edit my manuscript, should I tell them I obsessively edited (or I edited it with obsession) the manuscript so they know the edit they'll do will be no. 101?


"How do I edit thee? Let me count the ways!" How do I know whether Shakespeare actually wrote what he wrote once, for all time? I don't. But editing constantly may seem like a "Midsummer Night's Dream" at times. So are you a compulsive editor like me? Let me know at <> if you do. It's always nice to know you're not alone. Compulsive editor's unite!


D. D. Roebke


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