This writer/editor, red pen in hand
In introducing myself to potential clients and business colleagues, I sometimes find myself talking about why I love writing and editing. I suspect this might also be of interest to readers, so I’m sharing it now.
It’s the creativity in writing and editing that I love.
The best analogy to my work that I can think of is what happens on a potter’s wheel. Potters start by placing a lump of wet clay on the center of a wheel. Think of it as mud. Then, as the wheel spins, the potter pushes his or her fingers into the clay, creating a depression that gradually widens into a cavity. The potter skillfully shapes the wall around the cavity, thinning it, pulling it higher and eventually creating a gracefully shaped vessel, ready for glazing and firing in the kiln.
Creating beauty out of mud
Whenever I’ve seen a potter at work with a wheel, watching that formless mass of mud being transformed into an exquisite shape, I can only imagine how much gratification the potter must experience from the act of creating beauty.
While I’ve never tried my hand at pottery (and doubt I could be so skillful), I think that as I work to shape a piece of writing into something that conveys my thoughts ever more clearly, accurately and completely — yet still concisely and, in the best cases, elegantly — than the incompletely formed ideas I’ve begun with (my writer’s “mud”), I’m experiencing a gratification somewhat akin to that of a skilled potter.
Editing Is No Less Gratifying
I am rewarded with this kind of pleasure whether working on my own writing or someone else’s — that is whether my role is that of writer or editor.
In creating an original piece, the experience is just like what I described above. When editing a piece drafted by someone else — a client — I feel the way I imagine a master potter might feel if asked to add a finishing touch to a novice’s effort, when the clay is still wet and malleable. That finishing touch is what can transform an ordinary pot into an object of remarkable beauty.
Similarly, editing a hastily written or otherwise unpolished draft can turn it into writing that will capture the reader’s attention and convey the author’s thoughts with greater clarity, accuracy, completeness and, perhaps, elegance than the author could do without editorial assistance. That kind of writing presents the author’s thinking as engagingly and persuasively as possible.
Is this work creative? You bet.* Is it gratifying? Very!
That’s why I love what I do.
* I believe creativity is involved in virtually all the writing and editing I do, but in the items included in this link, you will find clear examples of creativity — many of them amusing — in writing I have done. Enjoy!