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The Edit

Hey PWEN people! I’d like to share with you an important lesson I learned the first time I worked as an editor on a project. The project was an anthology book and I was responsible for editing half of the contributing writers’ stories. I was excited to be a part of the project because it was going to give me an opportunity to practice my editing skills. In my excitement, I became a bit overzealous and hypercritical in my critiquing and for many of the writers, did them more harm than good.

Editing is not the same as stripping away. To edit is to prune. When you prune a plant, you take away what obstructs it from growing, and what’s left over is able to flourish and thrive. When you strip something, you take away its essence and it’s no longer recognizable.

What Jesus taught me during this time period was that my job as an editor was simply to prune each writer’s story, so that it can be read seamlessly. This was in direct opposition to what I was doing; stripping away at each writer’s story. In my ignorance as a novice editor, I was reformatting the entirety of each writers’ work into a style that most reflected my own style, and taking away their voices.

In my mind I thought I knew better than they did. I thought that my way and my “sound” made their work better. What I didn’t realize was that I was robbing them of their authentic sound by asserting my own. Some of the writers refused to move forward with my edits which had hurt my pride at the time, but Jesus showed me where I erred in a very deliberate way.

Though I was the editor for this project, I wasn’t the final editor. It was during this final editing process that I learned the true difference between pruning and stripping away. All the time I’d spent editing was completely undone with this final edit. I couldn’t hear my voice or see the time I had spent working on each writer’s story. I had been silenced and I hated it.

Though this was a hard lesson, it was a good one because I was finally able to empathize with the writers I was responsible to edit for. Understanding how I negatively impacted their work by experiencing it myself, completely changed my approach to editing. I didn’t get to apply those changes to this specific project but going forward, I worked with other writers with a new level of thoughtfulness and consideration that I hadn’t previously.

I want to encourage anyone who is in a season where they are being humbled by Jesus. Please know that pride is something that strips away from your growth and doesn’t allow you to learn valuable lessons. Through humility, you can be properly pruned and what’s left over will flourish and thrive. Hard lessons may not feel good but the results are undeniable.

Til’ next time, adieu.


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