January 09, 2003

Take my Wife...

Yesterday was a day of editing hell.

I wrote something I liked and thought it might be appropriate for sharing via the radio. I submitted it in an email, and an hour later had arranged to go read it at the radio studio in Roanoke. Then I came back and sat down with the piece and took a hard look at my conception. I realized that 1) it read too long and needed 30 seconds cut from the reading time; and 2) it had a wimpy beginning and ending.

Oh the misery of paring away the living tissue of your carefully chosen words.

"No! Not that! The alliteration is so perfect and the hard consonants play so nicely against the soft words about texture in that paragraph. And, I WILL NOT sacrifice THAT word, I don't care if only two percent of the listeners have enough botanical background to know it; it fits, and I like it".

The ownership of words is a terrible thing, and stealing them from yourself is a perverse necessity in the realm of self-editing. It may be even more painful, though, when your wife is the thief.

When Ann came home from work, I told her I would be reading an essay on the air. "Oh which one?" she asked, half afraid each time that I am excited about a piece I have written that it will turn out to be about her, she being as I often tell her, such a rich resource of good material.

I sat her down and read to her the piece I had been working on, here and there, for much of the day. It was now in final form, and I was ready to go on to something else after I let her hear it.

Whoa! Stop the presses!

"That's not you", she says. "That's not the way you write. That just doesn't fly. It's weak. Here, let me have it" she says and takes my final copy from my sweaty hands. I can't bear to watch as she scratches through this and adds to that. "Now" she beams after five excruciating minutes, "I fixed it".

To shorten the tale of this agony, suffice it to say that after a half dozen salvos back and forth, my brainchild will suffer no more changes, and it had a peaceful night's rest, unaltered now for several hours. And all is well. Until...

This morning, I get an email from my son, the writer, who has read my original version. He particular likes this, this, this and this.

And it was exactly that, that, that, which following strident negotiation between Editor Ann and Father of the Baby Fred, lies shredded on the floor of the operating room.

I leave to birth this creature into words in two hours. I wonder if there's time to completely rewrite it. Probably. Only maybe I shouldn't discuss this with my editors.

Posted by fred1st at January 9, 2003 07:26 AM | TrackBack

Hey, Fred, just let us know if you'd like us to take a look at it!

Posted by: sainteros at January 9, 2003 10:09 AM

I'd like to read the version *you* liked. You know what they say, too many cooks spoil the broth....

Posted by: Debi at January 9, 2003 05:24 PM

Wait! You can't just twirl out the door leaving our curiosity piqued.

Posted by: feste at January 9, 2003 07:24 PM

At least you get the final say, Fred. Sometimes I read my own stories in the paper and I'm like, "But I didn't write that!" LOL

Let us know how it went!

Posted by: irene at January 10, 2003 02:04 AM

Post a comment

Remember Me?