Saturday, December 18, 2004

 

I touch myself*

At what point does editing become narcissism?

*[With apologies to the Divinyls]

I tell my students that revising your own writing is a key part of critical thinking, and it is. Yet at the same time, it can become so... self involved.

One aspect of my job as a law professor is to publish lengthy articles in law reviews. These professional journals of the legal academy are run by law students. Law students decide what to publish in the journals. When they choose your article for publication, they subject it to an extensive editing process, going through three or so drafts in as many months.

We, we professors wish for the brilliant student editors who will improve the piece, but it is just as likely to get an intrusive edit by someone who thinks he’s really smart but doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. In such cases, you (the author) can spend a heck of a lot of time, not editing, but un-editing – rejecting or undoing editorial changes that create substantive errors or make the prose worse.

Given that tendency, the best you typically get as an author is an editing job that focuses on technical citation forms in the footnotes, and otherwise leaves well enough alone. And yet part of you always hopes for that brilliant editor.

The first two drafts of my current article were of the “leave well enough alone” variety, and I was quite happy. And then, suddenly...

It was the so-called “managing edit” – supposedly just technical changes – but there was something different. Something wonderful.

Every few pages there was an editorial suggestion that made the article... well, better. Sometimes it would be excess verbiage cut out. Elsewhere a subtle but apt word change, or a phrase added that clarified a point I had left too vague. There were not loads of these, but a fair number: maybe 20-25 in an 80-page article. And the thing is, they were shrewd. Sometimes I’d think, “not a word choice I would have made, but you know what, it works!” Sometimes, more excitingly, “this editor really gets what I’m trying to say – even better than I did when I wrote this!” I didn't agree with each and every editing change, but most of them worked well.

Here, finally, was an intelligent, sympathetic reader, someone you rarely find even among your professor colleagues; a person who not only understands, but can explain what you mean. This editor was clearly an exceptional law student, someone who could probably do well at any law school in the country; someone who could go on to a brilliant legal career, perhaps one in academia. This law student editor had gotten inside my head. And I have to admit, it was kind of sexy.

I picked up my photocopy of my previous draft, the one in which I’d made some handwritten edits of my own, in order to double check that the student editors had correctly typed in my previous handwritten changes. And I found something curious. Looking at my first change – deleting an awkward phrase, and replacing it with something that expressed my meaning better -- I saw that in fact they had not typed in my last round of handwritten changes. Instead, they had handwritten my changes onto another copy, added some technical editing of their own, and returned it to me. You see where this is going... all the brilliant, sexy editing was my own, simply copied over by hand by one of the law student editors.

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
I edit myself



Comments:
Have you done anything earth shattering lately?

Read anything that really sets your mind on fire with a passion to do good?

How about doing something important for yourself?

Have you?

Do you know without a doubt where life is taking you?

Got a Plan?

Know how to get there?

Most people don't. They just go through life hoping for the best. How can you possibly reach your dreams if you don't have a real plan?

A new year is coming. It's time to start thinking about your New Years Resolution and really start planning your life don't you think. Follow through on some of those old goals you had years ago.

Even people in the goal setting business tend not to visit their "life plan" very often.

Are you one of those?

Need a little refresher and some FREE goal setting tips?

Spend a few minutes at reaching goals and take away life changing information.

Happy New Year!
 
I was going to leave a little tip on New Years Resolutions and how to make the best of them.

Unfortunately, I would not be able to keep it brief.

Goal setting takes effort and you really have to know how to do it to do it well. Especially the follow-up.

That's why I've included a lot of FREE goal setting information on my website, to help folks like you be more successful.

In fact, you can start now, and get a head start on the new year - and the rest of your life.

Think goal setting isn't important? Spend a little time at reaching goals and you'll change your mind.

Have a GREAT day!
 
I was going to leave a little tip on New Years Resolutions and how to make the best of them.

Unfortunately, I would not be able to keep it brief.

Goal setting takes effort and you really have to know how to do it to do it well. Especially the follow-up.

That's why I've included a lot of FREE goal setting information on my website, to help folks like you be more successful.

In fact, you can start now, and get a head start on the new year - and the rest of your life.

Think goal setting isn't important? Spend a little time at career goals and you'll change your mind.

Have a GREAT day!
 
Trying to get this message across to people everywhere that when a change their life and are tired of living the life the daily and being unhappy. I'm writing to you today to see. Arrested in changing your life by using goal setting techniques. I have spent a lot of my life working and listening to other people complain about things they think they have no control over such as their lives. Using modern goal setting techniques you can change your life today. You can start living a life you've always wanted to live.. I have found a site that is very helpful and has helped me change my life forever. If you're interested in changing your life today visit this site and you'll see what I'm talking about http://startlivingyourdreamstoday.com I am living proof that life will change on the outside when you change which you think on the inside. I would be writing this today if I thought the way I used to think. Thank you for letting me post on your blog I hope this information will help other people change the way they think and start living a good life. Thanks again
 
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]





<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]