The Editor Becomes the Writer

This week, my writing energy went into an article I’m submitting for Broad Universe’s fall issue of the Broadsheet. I’ve never been hired to write something before. I guess I officially can no longer claim that I’m not a writer.

You know, it was really hard to write that article. Clark’s response? “Well, duh.”

Please understand that I have never ever thought that writing is easy. I have seen how much work and rework and agony and anxiety goes into writing. I have the greatest respect for writers. And even though I’m blogging regularly (if not terribly frequently), I still don’t think I could write creatively—reflecting on the world around you through blog posts seems like a totally different beast. It’s more responsive than proactive. There’s also less on the line—if I’m boring or incoherent or even flat wrong, I’ll be writing again, usually within a week. I can try to make a better impression that time around.

But writing an article that’s going to be published? Something that will stand alone, at least in how it represents me to the readers? Terrifying. And much harder than I expected, even though I’m writing about something I know quite well. I agonized over…well, everything. Is the topic ok? Is my purpose clear? Do I even have a purpose? Why would anyone want to read this? Who’s my audience? I wrestled with text—and begged Clark, Cam Banks, Ryan Macklin, and Lillian Cohen-Moore wrestle with it as well. I couldn’t face it alone. And it’s been interesting being on the other side of the editor/writer relationship.

It’s almost done. I still hate the conclusion, and it doesn’t have a title. I’m incredibly grateful that Lillian will be officially editing it before it’s published—I hope she’s really tough on it, because I know it needs it; I’m too close to the text to figure out how to fix the stuff I know needs to be fixed.

Yet I’m still proud of my article, imperfect as it is. I’m certain I’m a better editor than I am a writer (thank goodness!), but this has been a good experience and one that I would embrace again.

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4 Responses to The Editor Becomes the Writer

  1. Cam Banks says:

    I’m probably a better writer than editor, so that makes us even. :)

    Seriously though, the mindset going into each is quite different. I love to polish and revise other people’s work much more than my own, so that’s where the editor side of my work gives me satisfaction. But it is reactive, hitting the same part of my brain that fuels my responses to questions or brain teasers. Writing content is somewhere else entirely. I think I only got better at writing when I understood that I didn’t have to make it perfect the first time, that somebody else would be able to jump in and help me with that.

    • ayvalentine says:

      I really prefer the reactive side of things, although stretching into less comfortable zones is really valuable and often fun. I think I’m too neurotic to spend much of my time on the creative side – I like having something to work with.

      You are good at editing, though – your phrasing suggestions were pretty much all dead on. “Oh, yes, of course. Why didn’t I write it that way to begin with?” :)

  2. Clark Valentine says:

    Take everything she says here, and flip it around, and that’s what I’m feeling like: “You want me to edit this? Uh… I think it… uh… The paragraph after the… uh… This is hard.”

    • ayvalentine says:

      :) You were a big help, though. You made me think about the big picture stuff until the article finally developed something resembling a purpose.

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