I have often wondered what it would be like to work with an editor. Someone who would help me fine tune my writing, while teaching me how to do better on future stories. That’s one thing I haven’t found as a blogger – an editor. I do get comments, and I am thankful for every one. I learn so much from how other people ‘see’ my voice. Even if they think I am a boneheaded idiot, I find something that helps me improve with every new smidge of feedback.
But while I was turning this whole topic over in my mind, I realized that I was wrong, yet again. (Very freeing, this being wrong stuff… it would be too much pressure to be right all the time! I would never be able to relax, worrying about what would happen if I were to be wrong someday!)
I actually do have an editor. Not just one, in fact, but three editors. They are constant companions and the absence of one or more usually results in me spending a fair amount of time trying to pry my foot out of my mouth. How could I forget them?
There are three good friends who help me stay on the right track: Mr. Common Sense, Mrs. Keep it Real, and Miss Manners. You may laugh, but without all three of them, working together, leaning over my shoulder, whispering in my inner ear and even smacking me upside the head with a virtual frying pan, I would have all the grace, charm and insight of a loaf of bread.
I sometimes struggle with Mr. Common Sense. After all, it is so tempting to go off in a flight of fancy, flapping my middle-aged wings while trying to achieve vertical lift. But Mr. Common Sense is always there, sometimes grabbing me by the ankles, yanking me back to Earth and reminding me that relying on him is really my best bet, and one of my strongest suits. He is sometimes dull and prosaic, but without him I would be just another crazy woman, trying to walk around in a tube top and short shorts, thinking I made them look good.
Mrs. Keep it Real is like a mother to me. She reminds me that it’s okay to talk about bizarre things I see or think, as long as I don’t embellish. She is the Anti-Bedazzler in the back of my head every time I write. A minimum of description and light on the adjectives is her tried-and-true recipe for a delicious story. Some things are interesting enough all by themselves, and if they aren’t, maybe I should find something else to write about. Bless her; I think she keeps me from being pompous, pedantic and paranoid. Besides helping me make a wonderful written ‘feast’ with what I already have at hand.
Without Miss Manners, I would probably write things that would find a way to offend multiple people with every sentence I type. I might be tempted to describe things in a way that could be hurtful, unkind, or just plain rude. No one is perfect, and I am as likely as anyone to be critical when I should be considerate, judgmental when I should be understanding. Listening to Miss Manners is, I hope, the way that I can keep heart in what I write, and keep my vision cleared of all that muck that comes with mean spirited thinking.
These three stalwarts have guided me for many years. I admit I haven’t always listened to their good counsel. Sometimes, I act before I check in with one or more of them. The outcome usually isn’t pretty. But when I let them edit my thoughts, my voice and my typing, I feel pretty confident that I’m in good hands. If I ever end up working with a real live editor, I hope I will be as lucky.
Sandi Tuttle is the host of the Blog Talk Radio show “An Average Woman in a Superwoman World” (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sandi-tuttle).