Why I No Longer Edit Your Stories
As a new editor, I’m here to confess that I had it backward, and for that, I am sorry.
I’m far from an expert on writing or grammar etiquette, but I enjoyed workshopping others’ work. Grammar issues were of little concern to me — those were easy to fix in most cases.
Workshopping, though, is providing feedback on the content of one’s work and making suggestions on how to enhance it. In my defense, my only experience with editing was through writing workshops, so that was the space I was coming from.
The thing is, editing isn’t workshopping. In retrospect, I should have joined a writing group if I wanted to provide that type of feedback.
I first became an editor for a publication that had a heavy focus on grammatical correctness, which set my all-or-nothing and perfectionistic tendencies into overdrive.
As someone who had zero credentials, with the help of Grammarly, I quickly became an overzealous editor. For a piece to be considered in this publication, grammar had to be spotless. It was either rejected if it had too many Grammarly “suggestions” or returned with a note asking to be resubmitted for review once run through Grammarly or a similar program. They weren’t playing here. Sometimes they provided general feedback on what could be done to turn the piece into a better fit for publication, and I respected and learned from that. But I took it too far — not a surprise with the all-or-nothing tendencies I mentioned.
Submissions that contained simple grammatical errors like missing commas, potentially better word choices, or run-on sentences, I would run through Grammarly and make these minor corrections — no big deal, I didn’t mind doing that work for them — that was the job of an editor, right? (I know and respect that not every editor has the time or desire.)
But there were other things. Bigger things. I soon fell in love with editing because instead of rejecting a piece, I had the opportunity to provide feedback to grow writers: a second eye, a fresh lens. And I gave a lot of feedback; in retrospect, perhaps too much. I was changing the writer's voice.