Everyone needs an editor – including me.

by Todd Foley

Last week was excruciatingly busy. My editing assignments seemed to grow more and more each day and I was running up against a deadline for my latest feature article. I worked through my long list of projects and produced quality work, yet most days I didn’t feel any closer to completion. I was so overwhelmed by words.

My work station.

When I took my much-needed 15-minute walk on Friday, I had a moment to catch my breath and realized something: I truly love my work, and I am blessed beyond measure not only have the security of a job, but to have one where I’m excited to go to work each most every day.

I have only been a full-time editor for seven months and still have so much to learn, but I love the opportunity for continual growth.

Some days I’m in the zone.

Sometimes I feel lost.

But I love it.

Here are a few things I’ve come to value about the work I’m so blessed to be able to do.

  1. It keeps me sharp. I went into this job thinking my role was to correct grammar, spelling and stylistic errors. Never would I have thought that an extra space after a sentence would be so visually appalling, but it’s those small, seemingly insignificant details that can make an entire project look like a rushed job. It’s all in the details!
  2. It keeps me connected to others. Editors can have the reputation of being a bully, ignoring the heart of the writer and imposing what they think is best. Sometimes this works. Most times, it doesn’t. Before I came to my current job, I did two years of communications work with an international development organization called Food for the Hungry Canada. The NGO’s key objective is to “walk with” rather than “do for.” This approach is the only way of achieving sustainability; to do otherwise only encourages dependency. Writing is a deeply personal act, and editing is necessary for perfection – but these two agents need each other. It truly is a thing of community.
  3. It keeps me humble. That moment right after you hit “publish” on a piece of writing when you read the finished product and suddenly recognize a glaring error. The simple reason? I didn’t get someone to check my writing before hand. The real reason? It was a poor judgment call. This goes for all areas of my life. Earlier this week, I made a decision that seemed entirely harmless; when my wife [in a very loving, constructive manner] shared her perspective on the situation, I saw that it as a complete lack of judgment. I hate it when this happens, but these experiences keep me humble. I need it; we all need it.
  4. It keeps me focused on the present. The problem with mediocrity is that it isn’t subtle. There are times when I’m so focused on getting to the next project that I’m tempted to settle on the current assignment. I find two inner voices speaking simultaneously: one says it’s okay to simply gloss over the writing so I can start something new; the other warns me that I’ll settle even more on the next project. Solution? Take the time to be fully present with what’s right in front of me – in writing and in life.

What lessons have you learned from your line[s] of work? I’d love to hear from you!