The five stages of editing grief

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the edit.

Every writer learns how to do it: sit there and smile as your baby, your masterpiece, is revised within an inch of its life by unfeeling editors. Most pros develop a thick skin regarding editing early. But I came to the profession of writing late, and so was forced to adapt quickly to the, ah, rigorous editing of the staff of the University of Chicago Magazine. To all writers and would-be writers, and with apologies to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, I offer you my observations about how to get through this difficult interaction.

  1. Denial
    “What the...? This can’t be right, this is fine. There’s no need to change any of this. No, no, no.”

  2. Anger
    “I’m gonna go give my editor a piece of my mind. Doesn’t she see what I’m trying to do with this block quote? Who the hell does she think she is, anyway?”

  3. Bargaining
    “OK, look, I’ll shorten the part about the life cycle of the oak tree. But I’m not going to cut the bit about the guy’s mom. It’s a beautiful little story and really illuminates his personality.”

  4. Depression
    “God, I’m just an awful hack. I’m never going to make a living at this. I’ll probably never get another assignment again. All I’m good for is copy editing ads.”

  5. Acceptance
    “Ah, hell, just print it as is.”

Benjamin Recchie, AB'03

October 7, 2010