Editing: Writing Ourselves

Sarah Cacella

It’s funny to think of the first time I entered the Substantive Editing class. First of all, I’d made a mistake and sat in on another class that was next door. Something about politics, doesn’t matter, the professor was terrifying and that’s what made me realize I’d made a mistake. Fast track pastsed the awkward escape from the classroom and tripping when I entered late to my actual class, my afternoon was quite literally made of edits. Our lives are composed of millions of edits; it’s a neverending symphony of possibilities. When I think self-reflection, the concept of “writing is also and always and already editing, and that editing is also and always and already writing”* comes to mind, and I can feel its truth ring in my bones.

Besides this quote sounding like a Dr. SuessSeuss rhyme and confusing me, I think I get what this whole blurb is trying to say. I’ll take a crack a car crack at it anyways.

First of all see right there, that right there is an edit I made without realizing. Editing gives our brains a good dose of autopilot and muscle memory when we do our own writing! Sure it might mean we’re a bit zombie, not really cognizant of when no  (<—there again) we make or fix mistakes, so writing and thinking and editing are all facts  all happen simultaneously. Think of the process as its own organism, pumping ideas through chemical lacing going on in the brain, imagination being the heart, the medium with which we express ourselves, the lungs.

Like any organism we need to move in different directions. That’s why editing is such an intense process;, we THINK in editing because we literally edit everything we do. Looking deeper into this Dr. Seuuess idea, I find the question, “what does editing ‘know’?” Well, it “knows” when to slap a filter on so you don’t offend had the world while in a caffeine withdrawal, and it “knows” that you probably can’t repeat something 20 different ways in an essay to take up the word count. We constantly rehash what we’re about to say or what we’re about to type. Editing knows our innermost thoughts and mindset. We all have moments where we can’t put something on the page, because deep down we have a more significant wording that can be used but haven’t quite thought about it yetor we don’t know what the heck we’re doing and even editing tells you “you’re on your own. I’m out for coffee.”

If writing and editing is its own organism, then I’d even venture to look up at the cosmos and watch the chaotic beauty of dead stars and birthing galaxies. Earth itself has been re-written many times; time and time again the land was flooded with fire or water. Microbes also had to edit their DNA in order to produce the most successful versions of themselves. So it’s clear that editing isn’t just a writing process, but a universal one as well. Editing is in its own way a ubiquitous force,. from Down to the microscopic level to the gargantuan unfathomable extremities of the universe., so So let me fix this concept a little bit:, we are writing and also and always and already editing, and editing is also and always and already writing us.”

We are one with the mysterious effects of editing, and if I’m gonna toss in a bit of Star Wars, we are one with the force (of editing).


*Professor Dunja Baus


About the Writer

Sarah Cacella is a fourth year university student, majoring in English and Professional Writing. Her main passion lies in creative writing, specifically of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy genres. Sarah can usually be found next to a mug of coffee and typing up emails or assignments

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