Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Coping with copy editing ...................... Parables 076

These articles are written and revised in my basement, edited at the Fort Record in downtown Fort Saskatchewan, and sent by an ingenious machine to Camrose where they are set in the proper print style, shaped to fit the available space, and published as part of the newspaper.

So, when someone told me last week I was getting “rather abrupt” with my writing, I checked the copies of what I had submitted, compared them to the final outcome and was surprised to discover that the last sentence, and sometimes even the last paragraph, of three or four recent articles had been chopped off somewhere along the production process.

Now there is something most people don’t know about journalism. Most news stories are written in an inverted-triangle style. That means that all the essential information is given up front. The details or “padding” is added after it. If the copy people cannot fit a story into a page, they will cut the bottom off it to make it fit. The story, because it has the basics near the beginning, will still make sense.

But I don’t write news stories, nor do I write in a typical inverted- triangle journalism style. So when my endings were cut off, I was tempted to react like anyone would if they had been interrupted and not allowed to finish what they were saying or doing. After all, this was a circumstance beyond my control. Somebody else “did it”, not me. I could respond by getting angry and bitter, or even just throwing my hands in the air and quitting...

But God encourages His people to think differently, to see even little adversities as opportunities to grow. He does promise that “all things work together for good to them that love Him, to them that are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Since I don’t have enough energy to stay angry or bitter, and I’m too ornery to quit, I decided to see how I could grow from this, and use it for my good, even though I did wonder how important those endings were. I felt they pulled the articles together and were necessary. Would someone fail to be comforted, encouraged, challenged, or edified because they fell to the cutting room floor?

Those are things I can never know, but God does, so I had to acknowledge that God is sovereign. Since He knows far more than I, I accepted His decision to allow my work to be cut. He could have prevented it, but He choose not. He also is Lord. He has the right to edit even the most brilliant piece of writing (never mind my attempts) if it has no part in His plan. With thinking like that, I actually found myself thanking Him that it happened, even though I may never know all the reasons.

Secondly, It would have been easy to be angry at the editor, or whoever was responsible. Instead I found out that a new copy-editor did it innocently, to make the piece fit, as good copy editors are supposed to do - and it probably will not happen again. Because I determined that even should someone be “out to get me” (no one was) or have any kind of personal reasons to thwart my written words (no one did), my responsibility was not to react in anger or fear, but to be polite and sincere. In other words, keep my own conscience clear and not offend or burden anyone. It is so easy to toss retaliation around, but this time no one was hurt or upset.

Thirdly, I decided the words were not a waste. They encouraged me when I wrote them, and maybe they were more suited to my needs that day than the people who might read them the following week.

Fourth, it occurred to me that it wouldn’t hurt to continue to learn to communicate with clarity and brevity. We don’t always get an opportunity to “sum up” or deliver a “punch line”.

So often, knowing the sovereignty of God and the goodness behind His intentions rescues me from anger and frustration, making these ordinary issues in life opportunities to remember and worship Him.

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