With pen in hand, Laura was still working on page two of my five-page submission while the other three members of our writers’ group were on either page four or five. What’s taking her so long? I flipped the page of the Writer’s Digest magazine I was reading in a futile attempt to quell my anxiety.
Unable to resist, I cast a furtive glance at Laura over the top of my magazine. I could tell she was reading then rereading either a sentence or a whole paragraph. But she’s not writing anything yet. That’s a good sign. Then she started writing. I shook my head. Oh no. Here she goes.
She wrote. And wrote. The other three members finished; all of us sat quietly waiting for Laura, who was finally on page four, making notations in the margin, adding a comma here and there, rewriting a sentence, and deleting another one. Will this never end?? Turning to page five, Laura cleaned up some awkward language, circled yet another “it” (her pet peeve), and glanced over the piece one last time. Finally–thankfully!–she put down her pen.
The next morning I poured over each member’s feedback, but it was Laura’s that rankled; it always did. Oh, what does she know? I shoved the copies of my piece into a folder and buried it beneath a pile of papers on the dining room table. For two days, I pouted. Cried. Considered never putting pen to paper again. Then I got mad. What made Laura an authority anyway? Okay, so she was an editor. Still.
On the third day, I slithered to the dining room table and unearthed the folder. Maybe Laura’s right. I viewed her feedback with less emotion this time. As much as I hated to admit it, in many instances Laura was spot-on. I incorporated her suggestions and submitted a much tighter, cleaner piece at our next meeting.
I’d like to say that being on the receiving end of rigorous editing has gotten easier for me, but it hasn’t. Now as I edit another person’s work, I pray that he or she realizes my intention is to help his or her message or story leap off the page through crisp, tight, clean writing. My intention is to help other writers as Laura helped me.
Thank you, Laura.