Will My Real Words Please Show Up?

I’ve spent the past two hours editing papers thanks to the gracious insights of classmates and the APU writing consultant. The process involves seeing pages of red comments and marks, then accepting, adjusting, improving, or ignoring each one as the original document morphs into accordance with APA, grammatical, and syllabus expectations. It is a necessary process taking places on the desks and computer screens of college students around the country every week. The exchange of papers allows for refining as you see your original thoughts through the eyes of another, and catch the mistakes that somehow slipped through the original writing and multiple self-edits. I am grateful to have friends and classmates who will work through this learning process with me every few weeks. And after six months of the experience I have definitely improved my writing ability. It is a worthwhile system I would recommend to any student or writer. And it hurts.

This process is incredibly humbling as you release series of pages that developed out of hours and hours of research and crafting the thoughts floating around in the ether into something real, something that makes sense outside of midnight insomnia. Then the pages come back with connections that seem so brilliant or obvious inside of the red thought bubble. At least once each page, my inner-Homer Simpson cries out “Doh!” as I find a nonsensical word has slipped through or a punctuation that I should have known better, along with recommendations that make me want to go back to English 101 to discover what else I missed. Perhaps editing should be proposed to be one of the spiritual disciplines; I’ve definitely been learning about humility, patience, acceptance, gratitude, community, and perseverance through this process.

As I said, this process hurts. But it hurts in the same way that a good workout hurts: the limp back to the car is one of triumph because at least I’m upright. It hurts like my hands ache after cheering on 100 new graduates who deserve attention and honor. It hurts like the medicine that will calm the fever or cough and give restful sleep again. It hurts in a good way but it still hurts.

When I was 10 pages into the 15 page editing session, and well past the one hour mark in the process, I promised myself that after finishing the edit, I would come to this blog to write. It would be a time of reflection with minimal editing and maximum release as the words would be allowed to just be and APA would be ignored as much as possible. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll return to my papers to read through them once more before releasing them again; this time to be graded. I’ll look through the combination of original words and the medicinal gifts of my friends to confirm that somewhere between is my thesis coming through.

My exegesis professor once explained that the Bible as was written through divine inspiration, so that the intent of God and the unique style of the author were retained in the final product. I wonder if Paul ever got back one of his letters with red slashes on the papyrus. I’m pretty sure Peter would have had a fit about any critical comments while Matthew would be on draft number 10 before sharing it with his Teacher. Someone should write a book about learning styles according to the apostles. I’m happy to be one of your editors. = )

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