Thursday, December 09, 2010

Elizabeth Souter: The Editor

Oops! Housekeeping: I forgot to tell everyone to please check the sidebar and vote.  It was an impulse post, and once someone votes you can't edit it.  It should read:

__M-Th between 7-10 pm, CST
__Sunday 1-5 pm, CST
__M-F 9-12 am, CST
__No Thank you.

The lectures are about intimacy regulation, what else.


A few months ago, a Harvard educator contacted me and asked if she could take a stab at editing a few posts on Everyone Needs Therapy for free. Of course I jumped.

Free? The only thing anyone has offered me for free is a set of screwdrivers from Home Depot. Which I declined. First accepted, then declined.

But this? A dream come true. We talked while I waited for the good people at 7-11 to make me a pot of decaf (between patients, don't think the phone ever stops), and I told her that I barely pulled a C in Rhetoric in college, probably because I didn't understand the meaning of the word, rhetoric. They assume you know what it means when you're in college, the name of the course.

Anyway, Elizabeth, tzideikat, (rhymes with lid-ay-not, means a female saint) took a red pen to my work. It got pretty crazy, reading the edits,

but she was nice enough to also show me how it looked edited, which is what you got.  After the second pass.

Plenty of bloggers are really writing for themselves, as they should, because as you know, writing can be therapeutic. But if you write for an audience, you're talking performance art, and everyone wants a good performance. Most of us need a good coach for that to happen.

A few months ago I watched my granddaughter's ballet class, and the patient coaching of Miss Vanessa, well, it was a thing of beauty watching her work with those kids.  Not that the raw performances weren't amazing, and let me tell you about my granddaughter. . .

That would be a digression.

So Elizabeth -- professor, writer, editor, and blogger at Motherhood is Not for Wimps – was kind enough to doctor a post or three, and the five-year old in me gazed up and said, Plie' away.

She teaches blogging at Harvard Extension School, so she's probably bleary-eyed at the end of the day, and I hated to overtax her. Still, she asked for it, and she took my scribble scrabble, delivered line-by-line feedback, evaluated how I write, the voice and constructions, my strengths and weaknesses. (Two of the edited posts are up, one will require a lot more emotional energy from me before you'll ever see it.)

Of course, it was like good therapy. Lots of encouragement and validation, things to think about, stuff to work on – enough to jump start the critical thinker in anybody, planted firmly, as you well know, by some previous mentor you surely merited along the way, probably by a first degree.

But the results of those critical introjects!  You have to thank the coaches, the moms, the dads, the teachers, the sibs, the neighborhood folks, that guy at Little League.

Thanks Elizabeth.


P.S. If you want to work on your blogging, strengthen your voice and the quality of your work, Elizabeth Souter tells me that she is not too wiped out too take on another client. (She writes, too, is a published author). Check her out at Motherhood is Not for Wimps, but for an editing appointment, check out her personal website.


Syd said...

Interesting concept. I will just stick to my total scribble scrabble. I have been edited and re-edited a lot in my career. Now is the time for free for all writing.

Nainja said...

There are people who teach blogging? Amazing... Well, I suppose it makes sense in a way. First the new communication form starts and then the rules quickly follow..

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

Funny, because I've been contemplating a blog post about editing other people's writing. I do it regularly for our kollel's print materials, and it's not easy to preserve style while editing for grammar, etc. I imagine the same problem is in play in editing a blog post.

Tzipporah said...

Isn't she awesome? Liz is my favorite blogger, with thebloggess as second. (don't worry, you're in the list there too... )


Anonymous said...
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Jew Wishes said...

Nice post to ponder re the editing and such.

porcini66 said...

I just took on a position correcting freshmen university students' writing efforts...all I can say is, "Wow..." and not in a good way!

While I am all about the free write and the creative thought, I really have to believe that we need to maintain the basics and standards out there, lest we lose all meaning. Like anything else, the final creation is only strong when the foundation upon which it is built is strong.

I never found your posts to need editing, TD, but good for you for being open to the critique and allowing yourself to grow. :)