Yesterday evening I looked in my e-mail inbox and saw a most unwelcome message. I ignored it. This morning, as I was listening to an audiobook for review, I saw that this message had been replied to by one of the other recipients and so I felt it necessary to reply, which led to a back and forth conversation about an article I had written for my denomination’s teen magazine on my struggles with anxiety . Some of the reviewers of the article had wished that I write a happier ending and recommended adding some scriptures to the ending, including one scripture I had pointedly avoided using because it is often used as a club for those of us who are painfully and obviously anxious people. After some irritation, which I expressed to the people for the endless volleying the editing process had taken, I decided to add to the closing of my article a quotation of Philippians 4:13-14: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.” With that, I made it clear that I did not want to see the article again until it appeared in print, a point that was hopefully impressed upon the editors accordingly, who thanked me for my patience in dealing with what they admit to be a somewhat disorganized process.
One of the occupational hazards of being a relentlessly self-aware writer is thinking about the writing process and what parts of it are enjoyable and less enjoyable. Many writers engage in travel or the reading of books or conversations with people as the source of material for their writing, and all of those are activities I find enjoyable in general. Then there is the matter of writing itself, of taking one’s thoughts and feelings and impressions and finding the right words to express them, the right sentences to convey the point, the paragraphs to turn scattered impressions into a logically constructed essay. That is a process I also generally find enjoyable. While my writing springs from rather dark places, such as an intense need to release intolerable ambient stress, pressure, and anxiety and a dark and unpleasant personal history , the writing process itself is generally enjoyable. Considering most of the ways I have of releasing pressure are unpleasant and a bit messy, writing is a good deal less unpleasant than most of the alternatives.
Yet there is one part of the writing process that I detest. I hate edits. This is not only true when it comes to the writing I do for magazines or other publishing efforts, but also true for the reports I create at work. I like the process of creating reports, of writing essays, and of getting them done and over with so that I can move on to something else. I dislike things that linger and that go back and forth in an endless volley. I am generally aware of the fact that my writing is not perfect, and so I understand that from time to time something will have to be corrected or explained, but I generally feel as if people get one shot at making corrections before I start getting irritated with the process. I am aware that this is a shortcoming and possibly is harmful to my general well-being as well as my enjoyment of the vocational aspects of being a reporting analyst as well as a prolific writer. Whenever something goes back and forth over and over again, I become increasingly convinced that other people are just trying to put obstacles into my way when it comes to completion and that they do not really know what they want but want me to guess at it and keep changing what I’m doing until I randomly hit upon what they want and cannot find the words to express to me. This is intensely irritating to me. People who do not know what they are looking for have no right to find fault in what other people are doing. If you want to spend endless time tinkering with the way something looks or is worded, do it on your time. Don’t waste my time on it. I have other things to be doing, other things to be creating, other things to accomplish.
I will freely admit that this is an uncharitable attitude. To be sure, my bosses at work or editors who have the misfortune of dealing with me do not intend to add to the intolerable stress under which I live. They may have a vague understanding of what they want and only a vague understanding of what I am trying to do. Yet while there are people who enjoy the creative back and forth about turning what is implicitly thought in two parties who are not meeting at minds at some length into something that all parties can be pleased with, I simply find it frustrating when people continually keep raising objections and trying to get me to rework something again that I simply want to be done with. Nor do I know how this can be easily resolved. Many of us do not know ourselves or what we are looking for all that deeply. We may not know how to describe a vision in our head of what we are looking for, of what information we want included and what we are not interested in, nor are we always aware if what we want can be provided from the people we want it from. Still, as someone who has so many things to be doing internally that I like the process of dealing with them to go smoothly so that I can go about my business, it is immensely irritating to deal with people who are imprecise, inexact, and yet demanding, which is the worst of all possible words for me to deal with as a creator. Nor do I know how to make it less irritating to me, seeing as they are unlikely to change anytime soon, and seeing as I am not in a position of sufficient power where their opinion or judgment is irrelevant. At least not yet.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: