Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Question for Bloggers: How Many "Editors" Are Out There?

(...Wondering if you fellow writers have experienced the following, or shared in the process I describe in this post...)

To those of you who have ever read my blog articles "hot off the press", within a day of my having posted them: You might want to re-read them a day or so later.

That's because I am a compulsive and enthusiastic self-editor. 

I like to go back and re-read my previous writing before going on with something new.  Often I will find (aside from the usual spelling or punctuation errors that make me gag) an awkward construction, or a word that doesn't quite convey the correct shade of meaning.

So I will change it after it's "published".

Is that considered cheating?  Does anyone else out there "polish" their posts once or twice after publication? 

Usually, with my schedule, I blog late at night.  I keep Midnight as my deadline, and often miss that because of a complicated topic, or a minor blockage in my thinking. 

Writing is one of the most fulfilling parts of my day, and I have few distractions at night.  One big problem, though, is that I feel less sharp, even though my creative juices (or maybe it's just adrenaline) are really flowing...I always have been a night-person.

Struggling to find the right word, or a logical arrangement of thoughts, I fear that I will do an injustice to my topic.  Or, I rush to finish because I simply have to get to bed.  Once in a while I'll hold a piece until the next morning...but by then, my momentum is gone, the heat of the moment has faded along with my inspiration. 

So I will push to complete the piece on deadline, as any "professional" columnist would do.

I love words.  I love how different words, that have similar meaning, have created tiny variations in the pathways of my brain, so that one word expresses my idea perfectly, and all the others don't quite work.  

Often that perfect word isn't always at my command right away.  I love the satisfaction of finding the exact right word to describe what I can barely put into words...

I love sentences.  I love epic sentences, Henry James-ian clauses that replicate patterns of thought. I love stringing these sentences together in a scenic, winding pathway to an ultimate destination of meaning. 

However, I often get lost in them, in their convoluted paths that take a bump in my "road" or reach a dead end.  I find, as an "objective" reader, that I have not conveyed my meaning at all, but confused it, or went too far, or was boring.

And so I replace, break and reconstruct, at a time of day when my mind is firing on all cylinders.

Editing my work is as satisfying to me as creating it.

I never change actual content. I just find a different, better way of saying something.  I find another word, and BINGO! I expressed my mind and heart.  I rearrange a sentence, or delete a clause, and VIOLA! It is a smoother ride to the conclusion.

I have written countless film reviews that have been "edited" the next day, as well as many other pieces that improve with honest review and cutting.  On the bright side, I can read these now with some sense of real accomplishment. 

I wish I had the talent to knock out a fully-formed piece, straight from my mind's eye, and do so with perfect organization and no mistakes.  But I find my process of writing very much like that of a film editor (another activity I once loved with a passion). Take some raw materials (ideas) and try to shape them into something readable, valuable, even artistic.

I have often wanted to make this Journal a place where I and my readers can feel comfortable discussing the processes by which we create our blogs, our film reviews, our op-ed pieces, our humorous anecdotes, and whatever we love to write. 

It is now 11:45 pm, and I suppose after I get a good night's sleep, I will come back here and improve something.

Let me know if you are likely to do the same with your blogs. Are you an "editor"?   I would be glad to re-visit you for a second reading.


  1. So read this at 17.52 on Sunday. Will try to come back and take another look soon.

    Personally I never return to posts I've already completed - often to my detriment as my spelling is atrocious.

    Where would you put yourself on Kurt Vonnegut's Swoopers/Bashers scale?

  2. Ben: Just for you, I made some small grammatical "fixes" toward the end, and added one sentence in the middle.
    Had to look up your Vonnegut reference, and I found it to be excellent! Ha--I guess I am a Basher at first, agonizing over every line, idea, and structure...then, afterward, I Swoop in and fix what I couldn't get the first time. In the balance, I am more of a "swooper"!