Mean what you say: the value of a conscientious copyedit

Image by Shannyn Higgins

Image by Shannyn Higgins

Here’s an enthusiastic nod from Andrew Hamilton, consulting editor at Eureka Street for Julie Perrin’s Tender.

It’s a sublime collection of short reflective essays that deserves all the praise Andrew lays upon it in the full review. And I’m allowed to take a little credit for it…

For a few months now, I’ve been working with Julie in a story-coaching and copy editing capacity, partly on the just-released Tender, partly on the many other projects she has on the boil. Julie wanted to get the words just right, because she understands that each word counts. In fact, she knows this so well that I wasn’t sure how much of a difference my copyediting could make. And yet …

When Andrew writes the following in his review, both Julie and I glow with pride:

‘In this writing, every word, every punctuation mark, every turn of phrase has been considered in order to draw the reader into the human reality of a simple action, to share the writer's compassionate regard, and finally to embrace a question that ripples out into widening circles.’ 

This is what a professional, compassionate copy edit does. We ensure that the words, punctuation and phrasing carry the reader towards a new perspective, or at least a slightly shifted view.

I’m doing the same work with a completely different client. John Elliott is walking across Australia with four camels and a pooch name Bruski. John doesn’t consider himself a writer, yet. As the CEO of an insurance company, he’s had a few other things to learn, not forgetting that not that long ago he knew nothing about camels.

Again, like Julie, John knows words are important. So he sought me out to make sure he said what he meant. Now 600 kilometres into his adventure, John’s written nearly 20 blogs and says the story coaching/editing guidance not only distils his writing, but his thinking as well.

And the best thing for me as a writer, editor and word nerd?

Both of these people care. They care about what they’re doing. They care about writing. They care about their message, in that old-fashioned sense of the word before it was ruined by comms teams and pollies avoiding the hard work of real leadership.

Perhaps Andrew Hamilton says it best, ‘It displays devotion to the word fleshed out.’

May your words pour onto the page,