I think of my accountant. Every year, I worry about what lazy or stupid mistake she’ll see in my numbers.
But that’s never happened. Well, mistakes sometimes happen, but she never makes me feel stupid about them. In truth, when all is done, I feel smarter than I did going in.
And I feel relieved that mistakes are caught and fixed.
My work as an editor doesn’t protect my clients from serious IRS fines. But I can protect them from embarrassment. I can protect them from loss of credibility. I can protect them from misunderstandings. I can, in some rare cases, even help keep them out of some kinds of legal issues.
My purpose as an editor is not to find fault or rewrite messages so it sounds like my message or many other messages already out there.
My work is to lift distractions and shine a light on what’s real and good about your unique message.
In other words, I’m not here to judge you.
What comes to mind is the wagging finger of a teacher, or the humiliation of being called out in front of the class for some obscure mistake.
Good editors don’t do this. We don’t wag our fingers, mumble disparaging remarks under our breath, or call you out on social media. We don’t accuse you of being lazy or thoughtless, even in private.
As your editor, I see myself as your partner, not your judge. I want to see you succeed, because I value your message and I believe in its goodness.
I also know errors are part of the writing process for even the smartest people. I’ve made my own mistakes, and I’ve been in the hot seat, too.
What I do is mark errors and questions, and I do it with the “track changes” function in Microsoft Word document. I don’t use red ink unless you request it.
If something seems unclear, I ask for clarification, or suggest another wording. This is done quietly and tactfully in the margins of your work. No one else has to know, and you always have the final say in whether to change it, or leave it as is.
And finally, I’m not your teacher. I’m your partner. You can learn from me, and I can learn from you, too. I’m here to answer questions. I’m here to listen. I’m here to disagree with, and clarify with, and hone your language with, until you feel ready to send your writing out into the world.
I’m here so you can feel just a little bit less alone in the process.