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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Editor I am not

Yesterday, I had to edit a letter at work.

Yippee skippee.

My boss has a very casual style of communicating with our clients.  We don't have any form letters to speak of, everything is pretty personalized.  It's one of the things I like most about him because our clients really like that personal touch. He has a wicked sense of humor and often uses it in our letters. 

He's working on another business venture, though, with someone else.  As this starts to move forward, I am getting letters and whatnot to send out.  Not a problem, I'm happy to lend a hand.

What is a problem, though, is trying to edit this other guy's work.  He writes coherently enough, but it's so....corporate sounding.  Very stiff and formal. I printed the letter out only to discover he had used a size eight font.

Size 8!

But, when I increased the font to a more readable 11 or 12, it spilled waaaaay over onto a second page.

He doesn't like 2 page letters.

So my only option was to edit.

Very precarious position to be in for me.  I don't mind hacking MY work up, but I don't like hacking a superior's work.  Yet, there are some things that MUST get fixed before going out.  It's a fine line for me.  Fixing those glaring errors and tweaking just enough of the rest of the letter so it suitable for human consumption. 

Somehow, I doubt that real editors have any qualms about telling writers when their work sucks.  I doubt they walk the tightrope between making something readable and preserving the author's delicate ego.

Bottom line:  I'm soooo not cut out to be an editor!

On a completely unrelated note, when I ran out at lunch yesterday, the police had an entire BLOCK barricaded off and officers were running around with RIFLES.  Yes, RIFLES.  This was a mere FOUR blocks from my office. (where I spent the whole afternoon alone.)  Never did find out what was going on, but in this small town that was BIG news lemme tell ya. 

What I don't understand, though, is why so many people took it upon themselves to stand around on the corner watching.  HELLO???  Men with GUNS are roaming the neighborhood.  So obviously they are looking for someone dangerous.  I'm sorry, but if these people are stupid enough to stand around gaping near a crime scene, then they kinda deserve it if they get hit with a stray bullet or are taken hostage. 


I'm thinking of having some kind of contest on Mother's Day.  Stay tuned for more details!


KarenG said...

Sounds like an interesting day at work! Are we going to get the rest of these stories later on? Did you get the letter edited without losing your job? Or your mind? What was going on out there with the cops and the guns?

Anonymous said...

Have you talked to the boss you admire about your quandry with the new guy? Is it not true that what you are trying to do is help the new enterprise succeed? I so relate to your dilemma, and with the wisdom of years of hindsight, I see that asking him for clarification would be a very good thing. "Bob, I need your guidance here. I know (explain how) that people have trouble reading 8 pt. type, and I know you don't like two page letters. You want the letter to achieve (this objective), right? Would you like me to leave it as it is, edit it down, or run it over to two pages?"

What a rich and challenging life you lead!

Matthew Rush said...

Ooh, that is a sticky situation.

Maribeth said...

I so feel for you! I worked for a great homilist. However a letter he isn't -- on and on. I edited two letters for him (with his ok) and he received compliments. After that he would say, "Fix it and let me see what I wrote, please."

Good luck!
Giggles and Guns

MissV said...

KarenG - Don't know much about the police situation. They say a man with a handgun went into a house (next to a daycare--ack). Last they reported, the police entered the house with a search warrant but that was it. No word on if they found anyone or anything.

losalamos - I kinda did what you suggested (via email since the other guy is off-site). Told him 8 pt was way too small so we either had to edit it or go into two pages. He didn't respond, so I showed my boss and he helped me cut it down (he doesn't like how the guy writes either). I sent the edited version for approval and he couldn't tell the difference so it was a win-win.

Matthew - Aren't you glad you're not an admin? Sticky situations abound!

Maribeth - Good for you! I prefer to draft the letter based on what they're trying to accomplish and let them tweak my draft if necessary. Saves everyone time that way!

Theresa Milstein said...

I had a difficult time when I began doing manuscript exchanges, so I can relate. Editing someone else's work is daunting at first. I've gotten used to it.

Rifles in a small town? Once, I went to a wedding in a small town and saw a bank robbery go down from the (relative) safety of my car. In Cambridge, I've seen a car chase or two in my time.

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

LOL regarding the letter. Nah, just be confident about it next time. He'll respect you more for doing so.

Re the guns omn the corner. STAY AWAY! ARHHHH!!

Dawn said...

So many cliffhangers....tell me more :-)

Early in my journalism career, I had a job in a small (very small) town and was asked to do a story on a man whose garbage had spilled from his house onto his yard. I crept onto his property for a picture, so intent on my task, that it wasn't until I heard the click of his shotgun in my ear that I knew he was home. Whoops.

BTW - I tagged you today :-P

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Ah, the joy of editing corporate-ese. When I have something to edit and I know the client is all precious about their writing, I tend to cut the copy in unnoticeable ways first. Like, you can always replace "in order to" with "to." Or change "utilize" to "use." Or "whether or not" to "whether." Those tiny cuts can make a BIG impact on size and space. It's also helpful to point out (gently) to your superior that corporate jargon is difficult for people to read and therefore actually act on. Check out: :D

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Ooh, that doesn't sound like fun. I have enough trouble editing my own work, let alone anyone elses. lol.

Creepy Query Girl said...

I'm sure you did a fine job with the letter. They should appreciate the fact that they have a writer in their midst to fix these kinds of things.

As for the riffles! Goodness! Yeah, I would be tuning into the news to find out what the deal was.

PS- Excersise going strong. I officially hate doing glutes and I'm thinking about just not doing them. I like my behind as it is.

Diane J. said...

Oh new guy, is going to creat some fun office fodder. hee, hee, hee.

As for the rifles, yeah right there with you on the not wanting to hear whining if a gawker gets a bullet. My husband did that once. Gawked, not ran around with a rifle. It was a neighbor (we live in a good area, really). we saw cop cars come flying up the hill and circle (well, half circle) the guy's house and the police ran out with guns drawn. I locked the front door, gathered the kids in a far bedroom and then asked my teen where his father was. He ran out to see what was going on. I left him locked out. Love the man, but jeez! At the time we didn't know if they were going to be chasing some armed person through our yard (turns out my neighbor drank and then while driving home hit a few other cars and kept going) - he's really a nice guy, but was not thinking that night apparently. Thankfully, no one was hurt and my neighbor doesn't drink anymore.

notesfromnadir said...

It's actually easier to edit someone else's work. But harder to gauge their reaction to it!

As for people standing around & watching guys w/ guns -- it's like live TV for them! Free entertainment. :)

MissV said...

Theresa, I would freak if I saw a robbery! I haven't joined any crit groups yet. It'll be interesting to see how well I do with sharing my work. I know it'll be beneficial...but I'm still thickening my skin!

Alliterative, good advice. It'd be easier if he were in the same office. I locked myself in the office the rest of the afternoon...just in case.

Dawn, OMG. What did you DO? I'm not cut out to be a journalist, and with stories like that I'm even less likely to pursue that path!

Zoe, thanks for the link. That's awesome! I used to help with government proposals (which comes up in tomorrow's post), and that list of big (bad) words brought me back (SHUDDER).

Lindsay, own work can keep me tied up for a long time, too!

Creepy, hahaha...yeah, they should bow before my magnificence and double my salary! Yeah....*drifting off into a daydream*
WOO HOO to the exercise! I've been sticking to cardio lately but I really need to get back to the weight training one of these days.

Diane, I'm with you. I'd be locking all the doors, closing the drapes/blinds and waiting for it to blow over. And I totally laughed out loud that you locked your husband out! Serves him right for being nosy!

notes - haha true! And when they're your boss, you gotta be wary of their reaction! Good point. Reality TV in their own backyard.

Shannon said...

Blargh. I thought I commented earlier. It was snappy and witty, too. And now I've got nuthin. :)
I'm sure the letter came out well!