From Kate’s Writing Crate…
My deadline for the magazines is the 15th-18th of every month. This month, I spent over 10 hours editing and five hours writing on the 18th to meet my text deadline. (Magazine editor is not a Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm job.) I spent that much time working as the 18th is the sales deadline and the ad count determines the page count. For April, there wasn’t room for everything submitted to fit so I had to do the hardest editing of all—re-editing.
First, I edit everything submitted by the contributing writers and the public for errors, transitions, redundancy, and coherency as I receive them. The word count may go down, but the main goal is to make the writing as perfect as possible.
When space is limited, I have to re-edit ruthlessly—usually in one day.
The first things I cut weren’t happening in April. Those items are the easy targets, but I know the people and writers who submitted them will be upset, but I cannot let that influence me.
I’m also humbled at this time. I always find some errors and redundancy that I missed. When found, these mistakes are easy to edit.
I know the writers put a lot of work and artistry into their columns and articles. The columns fit on two facing pages so I don’t cut the word count in columns; I publish them or I cut them.
However, the hardest editing is taking a cohesive article then cutting it down to fit exactly on one, one and a half, or two pages without jumping extra text to the back pages. I cannot just cut the last three or four paragraphs. I have to keep the articles smooth, entertaining reads. This means great lines and well-written paragraphs throughout the article don’t always make the cut.
If I think the issue is tight—too many items to fit—I put off writing my timely article(s) until I know the pages I have left to fill. Because I’ve written so many articles over the years, I can write them quickly. This does put more pressure on me when I’m tired, but it’s easier and less time consuming to write shorter articles then edit down well-written completed articles. This is one of the tricks of my trade.
The last difficult thing I have to do is contact all the writers and individuals whose items were shortened or cut. I explain the situation. I also publish these items on the magazines’ facebook pages. Luckily, most of them understand and accept this. The ones who don’t, take time and diplomacy to appease.
This is why my days off coincide with delivery of the magazines to the printer. Once they are printed, I can’t change anything and I need to recover from all the work and stress it took to get them there.
Editing is more than using a red pen to transform text. It also takes persistence, patience, and people skills. It’s a great job, but not for everyone.
Word count for the week of March 12-18 was 7,121.