“Joe needs a new editing team.”

Someone left a stinging rebuke at the end of one of our articles that had been posted by an online magazine for people in the Lord’s work. The writer was perturbed that I had directed a piece to pastors’ wives but not one to the husbands of female preachers.

I pointed out that while I am well aware some pastors are female and their husbands need an article all their own, I am not the one to write it, having no experience of that nature. For me to write it would be presumptuous, I said.

But that wasn’t good enough for some people.

One guy blasted me for saying that, insisting that it was insulting to the women pastors.

I replied that when I write just for male pastors, some women take me to task for neglecting women pastors.  Then, if I include a disclaimer saying I’m aware some are female but I’m Southern Baptist and we don’t have any in our denomination and I’m unqualified to write for them, I get ripped for that.

One woman pastor noted, “Joe needs a new editing team.”  That one made me smile.

I replied, “I would love to have an editing team of any kind! As it is for this retired preacher, if any editing gets done, I have to do it.”

Editing. Ask any writer.

It’s the hardest, most thankless part of writing. You turn on the laptop and labor to get something off your chest, looking up Scriptures, pausing frequently to pray for wisdom, and keep typing. You save it as a draft, go to the store for your wife (oops! There’s that male reference thing again! Editorial team, where are you?) and run a few errands, come back home, turn on the computer again, re-read what you’ve got, and pick up where you left off. You keep returning to the article over several days, writing and revising. Finally, you think, “It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s the best I can do. So, here goes!” And you post it.

These computer programs–this one is called “Dashboard”–allow you to re-enter the writings at any point, sometimes years later, to tweak something or update a reference. So, once the article is posted on my website I usually return later and try to read it dispassionately, looking for clarity, mistakes, typos, and omissions. Almost invariably, I find something and go into the program to correct the spelling, add a Scripture reference, or take out a redundancy.

I’m my own editor.

Frequently, someone at sermoncentral.com, disciple.com, crosswalk.com, churchleaders.com, or one of the other online magazines will scan this blog, as they do a hundred others, in search of something they can repost for their thousands of subscribers.

The first I know about it is when it shows up in my mailbox.  (For those who wonder, no money changes hands.  No one pays for these things. I allow them to use my stuff and they repay me by putting it out there into cyberspace. That suits me just fine.)

What would an editing team do, anyway, I wonder.

And I think I know.

Ask anyone who has ever written Sunday School lessons for their denominational publications.  Now, those folks have their editors! Do they ever.

Denominational publishing houses have layers of editorial teams, all of them ready to scan your writings in search for bad syntax, heretical doctrines, awkward sentences, missssspelled words, political incorrectness, slights to minorities, excess verbiage, and references to Joel Osteen.

When they finish, the result is something akin to a camel.

That animal, according to the old saw, is a horse built by a committee.

By the time your writing emerges from the editorial gauntlet, it has been neutered, emasculated (is that a redundancy?), declawed, defanged (that one too?), and made to sound like ten thousand other pieces sent forth from that publishing house.  Did the writer have a personality? Yes, but the editorial team successfully shut that down.

No thanks.

When I’m my own editor, I can say “ain’t” when I feel like it (i.e., if I feel like it fits) and “what in the sam hill” or “smiley-face goes here.”  Believe me, none of those would survive the layers of editors lying in wait for those who are subject to them.

It’s a little like being a bachelor, I expect.  Bachelors can leave things laying around because it’s their house and they have no one else to answer to.  It’s why committed bachelors are reluctant to marry; they are unwilling to give up this prized privilege.

So, Joe. Are you saying wives are like editors?

Perhaps better, an editorial team is like having a battery of wives, all of them ready to show you what you should have done, remind you how to do it better, and to keep you from wearing that tie with that shirt.

No thank you.

Just in case anyone wonders, this is one article I will not be reading to my wonderful wife.  Smiley-face goes here.

4 thoughts on ““Joe needs a new editing team.”

    • ha. Glenn, thanks for that. I actually know some great editors who are women and some great ones who are men. So, I haven’t decided yet. Give me a millennium.

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