Writing: It’s Never Done

The smartest thing I ever did was hire an editor to help me with my book.

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I write and rewrite and then write again. It used to drive my editor crazy at the newspaper. Coleman, he’d say, you gotta write it just once. Then let it go.

I’d sneak back into the newsroom and rewrite my drafts.

Problem is I can’t let it go.

And it drives my students crazy, too. Their papers and theses are never finished because I find areas that need bolstering. Pruning. Smoothing.

And woe to the graphic designer who works with me. One of my finest students, Melissa, who is also a crackerjack designer and artist, should have fired me right from the start because I change copy over and over again. And often at the last minute. (Melissa designed the website for my blog).

With the book, I continue to smooth over the first chapter and am now on my seventh version.

The great thing about my editor, whom I will call Elizabeth, is that she gets me.

I worked with her on a book chapter two years ago and something just clicked. She understands a writer’s temperament (writers are babies) while being firm and kind at the same time. Like me, she’s a linear thinker, but unlike me, she can see the holes in my arguments.

She gently pries my ego from my iron fingers and shoves it away in a corner.

Problem with writers is that we fondle things. Like Linus and his blanket, we hang on to the flannel threads far too long.

Thank goodness for great editors, students and teachers.

Thank you, Elizabeth. Thank you, Melissa.

[Charles Schultz’s rendering of Linus from http://stuffilike.onsugar.com/tag/linus%5D


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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3 Responses to Writing: It’s Never Done

  1. Russ L says:

    I empathize with you!


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