Fear of the Red Pen
Posted on November 15, 2012
Who doesn’t remember hating to get back your paper from the English teacher just knowing that the red ink marks of everything you did wrong will drip off the page and stain you? You believe that the teacher is just out to get you, which makes you hate writing even more!
Whoever was the first to come up with the idea to make corrections in red ink was a sadist. It really does correlate your mistakes with the “blood”, sweat, and tears you put into your writing a little too closely.
When dealing with an editor, these days it’s more of a proverbial “red pen” with computer tools like Word where an editor gives Track Changes and Comments. You still get corrections, and your manuscript may look like something foreign to you because of the mark ups.
When we editors look at your manuscript, we’re not gleefully laughing and tearing your writing apart so it will “bleed” (nor were your teachers in reality). We want to help bring your manuscript to the height of its potential. For some writers, it may take more than you were expecting.
It doesn’t mean your work is worthless or not good enough – I believe that’s a sentiment we carry forward from those earlier days of school. It means that your editor and collaborator has found a way to help you be more successful. The good news is that instead of getting a final grade, you have the ability to accept or not accept the suggestions your editor makes. You can question what the editor means more actively, and participate in the shaping of your work.
You may never be able to fully get over the Red-Pen fear, but you can start seeing the corrections and suggestions made by an editor as another step to make your manuscript the best it can be before taking the next step!