There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who divide people into two categories and those who don’t. I like to consider myself the latter.
Speaking honestly, if there are two groups of people, they’re the thinkers and the doers. These groups can be further recategorized into three groups: those who think but should do, those who do but should think, and those who really have no business involving themselves in anything at all.
I edit because I can’t write.
You’d think that the journalistic food chain would have the best writers graduating and becoming editors. It would make sense that the editors get to tell everyone else what to do because they’re the head honchos - they’ve seen it all, done it all and, most importantly, written it all. They’re the most creative and special fruits in the bunch.
Not so. It is true for some; we have an all-star cast of editors who are absolutely the sharpest pencils in the drawer. Caleb and Chad and Zach and Julia have all earned their stripes. But me? I edit because I can’t write. I’ve tried. Believe me. I’ve spent hours in front of a keyboard. Don’t get me wrong - something comes out. My fingers fly across the keys and I end up with a passable piece of steaming bullshit. To my high school English teacher, it was good enough. Very insightful, he thought.
In reality I’m just highly adept at stringing together a line of observations from SparkNotes and Wikipedia and passing it off as my own hard work. When you’re bookish, no one looks too closely.
But no. I sit at the computer for hours and get out some great stuff. Then, at the end of the day, or even the next morning, I reread it and I realize that all I’ve done is produce an article that, with the right title, might be able to masquerade as bottom-drawer clickbait. And that’s the greatest height it will reach. Sure, I could throw it in the magazine. We’ve got enough room that I can squeeze my own page in without much of a fuss. But when it comes down to it I’m going to develop a guilty conscience because I know that I’ve just lowered the quality of the magazine by at least 5 percent--if I’m being kind to myself. I know in my heart of hearts that what comes from the creative side of my brain isn’t worth half of what the other works in the magazine are.
We receive some truly amazing submissions. Stuff I’m proud to edit. I get to go through and check off all the boxes to fix the grammar, and at the end of the day I can put my name in the credits and act like I made a difference. Yet if I’m being honest with myself, I should realize that’s all I should be adding. The verified Creative Types should be in charge of the content. Let me shred it for grammar and make it sound pretty and flow nicely. But leave the hard work up to the prose pros.