Three Stages of Editing

After months off from any major writing, I finally have some articles back in the pipeline. Two articles are finished and currently with editors, who have offered feedback. Having been out of the process for awhile, it hit me a bit to see someone critique my writing (too much blogging will do that to you).

Receiving both articles back with feedback and suggestions at roughly the same time, I went through what I hereby define as the two stages of writing:

Stage One: Unbridled Contempt

Whether surfacing as rage, shock or feelings of betrayal, unbridled contempt is the first stage a writer goes through. Your writing is like a child, and your parental instincts kick in full bore. My internal monologue after reading one editor’s critique went something like this:
“Who does this new editor think he is? They have no context for why writing….Wait, What? I overuse the word beautiful too much? I beg to differ….Doesn’t this person know I edited a magazine? I know how this works….Seriously, who does this person think I am? I have a graduate degree in English! I taught English at the college level! This person has no right to tell me what’s what! I’m not changing  anything, it’s perfect!”

Stage Two: Self-realization

The next stage happens when you go back to read your perfect draft, before that editor touched it. As you read your first draft you begin to discover that you do overuse certain words and that those comment really do make a lot of sense. At this point you begin to capitulate to whatever the editor says. You give in. You let them win. It’s just easier that way.

Stage Three: The Grand Comprise

As you jettison your original piece and bow submissively to the editor as your benevolent dictator a bit of your writer’s pride comes back. “Who has the pen here?” you ask yourself. The answer comes in a grand compromise: accept the grammar edits, review the comments and suggestions then buckle down to do the hard work of revising tour piece under the editor’s direction but always in your voice. Your work becomes a piece that is influenced by the editor, but not dictated.

How do you feel when your art is critiqued?

Do you go through similar stages?

How are your stages different?