Not all Writers can handle editing.

I recently took on a new writer, a poet, who has decades of poems he would like to share with the world. Luckily, we are in a digital age and publishing is not a closed circuit anymore. He isn’t looking for a big publishing deal, he just wants people to be able to read his art.  

Normally, I receive documents by email or file sharing so I can make all corrections and notes accessible to the writer instantly, but this writer is an old soul who still hasn’t used the internet and only uses a landline phone. I picked up the most recently written 40 poems and made copies for my notes. He assured me they would only need a light proofreading, but he was very mistaken. Poetry is an art and doesn’t necessarily have structural rules, but basic rules of English must still be followed.   

After dispensing of an entire red pen over days of corrections, I was ready to sit down with him to discuss the technical updates. My greatest concern was that he would be so overwhelmed and discouraged with the amount of corrections that he wouldn’t recognize that the poems’ messages were untouched.  To avoid his immediate disappointment, my plan was to have him read aloud from his original copies so I could point out the quick corrections, corrections I would make before posting the poems. It didn’t go as planned.

When I tried to explain why “it’s” needed to be changed to “its”, he told me that he didn’t care about the words, but he was positive that “it’s” was the possessive spelling and refused the correction. I wasn’t ready to defend the basic rules of English to a writer. After an hour of explaining only the beginning of the corrections and showing him proof both online and with his dictionary, he was still insistent that the edits were unnecessary.

He didn’t really want an editor, just someone to do the busy work of retyping and uploading his work to a website that we would create for him.  I offered to do the editing and our parent company Gratwick Productions offered to handle the website creation and some SEO marketing as a demonstration of our services.  It would be a disservice to ourselves and the potential of his art to publish it in a subpar format. I have never had to do this before, but I had to end the meeting by explaining I was unable to help him any further.  It wasn’t ego, it was professionalism.

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