Thursday, May 26, 2011

Enraging, Endearing Editors--Throwback Thursday

Hopefully, editors won't become as rare as the red pen.
I Miss Them

After discovering my love for journalism in middle school, I was devastated to learn that my high school paper would be off limits until I was a junior. Come junior year, I was amped to get my first by-line in newsprint. By the end of the semester, I had discovered the age-old love/hate relationship between writers and editors.

I learned two hard lessons in one issue, the second as demoralizing, if not as dramatic, as the first. (I cut out the first instance, it was way to long to combine both.) I was writing about the pumpkin patch in a near-by town. I wrote three drafts of that story, before it was approved. That wasn't the problem, though. Those editing lessons were much appreciated.

The work put into the story did make it the one I was most eager to see when the paper finally came out. Grabbing a few copies and rushing home, I tore through the pages to find it. And burst into tears. The version that went to press was the first draft. I was enraged. After all those
edits, I knew this was sub-par, error-riddled copy--with my name on it!

NOT the answer.
What did sixteen-year old me do, after hours of angst? I went outside and stood on my sidewalk with the paper in one hand and a Bic in the other. I torched that bad boy and retrieved the other copies to add to the flames.

No, I didn't learn to be a pyro from this experience. I actually calmed down the next day and picked up some more copies. My other articles, book reviews and football game photos were in there too.

I did, however, learn something about editors. They can drive us crazy with requests, devastate us by passing on stories dear to our hearts and even put the wrong article draft in the paper. Editors also teach and motivate us to be better writers, give us the leeway to chase the story and champion us for as long as they dare.

It's rare to have the same interaction and relationship with editors while writing online. Writers are really missing out on some of the most maddening, yet immensely enriching, back-and-forths they may, unfortunately, never experience.

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