Editing the Way We Edit
My first encounter with an editor was as bad as they get.
The West Morris Central High School Bimonthly Herald, despite taking the prize for the most ridiculous name in journalistic history, was nothing short of a very bad newspaper. When I first joined the staff as a columnist during my sophomore year in high school, the publication was unknown to the vast majority of the student body, and operated on a 75-dollar yearly budget. Even so, I was enthralled with the prospect of seeing my name published. In September of 2008, I completed and submitted my very first column – a critical investigation of administrative payrolls entitled “Corruption in the Main Office”. Five days later, when the printed edition was released, my original story was nowhere to be found. Instead, framed just above my name on the center of page three, was the headline “Students Approve of Paychecks”.
In a potent daze of confusion and anger, I approached the editor-in-chief, a senior AP student who had founded the organization in 2005.
“This is definitely not my article”, I proclaimed, gesturing furiously at the open newspaper on her desk. “Why did you change it so much?”
Rising slowly from her seat, she cleared her throat menacingly. “How dare you barge in here and lecture me,” she snarled. “I guess you think that you should be editor!”
Someone apparently did, because two months later I had her job.
Having graduated from The West Morris Central High School Bimonthly Herald to The GW Hatchet, I once again find myself in the position of a lowly columnist. This time around, however, my editors are exactly what editors should be. They work with me directly when making revisions, and are the first to consider my own suggestions. Accordingly, the printed product is always superior to my initial submission.
In reality, revision embodies one of the most important steps of the writing process. While many students liken the role of an editor to that of a censor, nothing could be further from the truth. In an episode of his weekly video blog series, author John Green argues that editing can inspire a writer’s best work.
So, exactly where can one go about finding an editor? Well… just about anywhere.
When attempting to improve your UW essay, take advantage of the countless resources at your disposal. Hand it to your roommate. Talk it over with a professor. Heck, feel free to enlist your parents during Colonials Weekend. The possibilities are endless. When all is said and done, you may be surprised to learn that your best idea comes from the most unlikely of editors.