Something about editing

Something about editing

I need editors. And I need to edit. There’s something about my writing brain that, more often than I’d like, overlooks error.

I miss grammatical errors, typos and clumsy sentence construction more than I’d like because, well, it made sense at the time. Some of these errors are uncovered through self-examination, others are glossed over several times without me realising my feeble grasp of the language.

It’s not as though they’re intentional. Ideally, everything I write would be 100% error-free. It wouldn’t be a guarantee for it being interesting or readable, but it would be squeaky clean.

My wife, Fiona, is the chief editor of my words. Most of what I write, on writesomething at least, is read and edited by her. Sometimes she’s willing, sometimes coerced and half-asleep, but she’ll read through and correct grammar and syntax to help it say what I meant it to say.

Sometimes she’ll ask “what are you trying to say here because you’ve lost me” and together we’ll figure a better way to express the thought. Interestingly, I’ve found that I can see errors I’ve previously missed while reading along over her shoulder as she edits.

When I have to put my editor’s hat on for others, I read differently. I’m not reading something I wrote; I’m doing for other’s writing what Fi does for mine. In those moments, I find the same errors that I’m inclined to gloss over in my work. I don’t think this is because I’m soft on myself—sometimes I think it’s because I read what it’s supposed to say rather than what’s necessarily written.

Paul writes to the Romans:

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26

Intercedes. Do not know. Groanings. Too deep for words… Feels like heavy editing language to me. Not in order to remove content (though sometimes that’s necessary), and not to highlight the error, but to bring clarity.

Holy Spirit interprets, purifies, sanctifies, discerns, convicts, and, emphatically, reveals Jesus. Holy Spirit reveals Truth.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

John 16:13-14

There’s a partnership that goes on with Holy Spirit that doesn’t edit us from the story; it develops our character to its fullest.

I want to be edited by the Holy Spirit. More than this, I want a heart that’s being transformed by Jesus. Left to my own devices, even the best editing work will leave my heart a scarlet shade of dirt but, in Jesus, there’s ongoing reformation. New stories are being written, further editing is taking place and, brick by brick, a different house is being built.

That’s the slowest editing work of all, but thankfully, it’s crafted by the unforced rhythms of grace.

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