Faith, Grace, Writing

The Big Edit

The review part four by With and associates on flickr


I am an editor, but you’ll probably still notice plenty of typos and grammatical errors in my writing.  It’s understood, in the world of publishing, that writers are universally terrible at editing their own work.  When you know what you’re trying to say, very often you don’t notice the impediments to others in understanding what it is that you’re trying to say (if you know what I mean)…  A fresh set of eyes is almost essential in producing a polished piece of writing.

Of course, there is also some conjecture about what a ‘good edit’ involves.  Some writers are very happy with a drastic copy-edit of their work, where the editor cuts and pastes and shifts things around and then either creates transitional passages to improve the flow of the work (or requests that the author do the same).  Other authors are far more territorial; even a word substitution to increase clarity for the reader is met with querulous resistance by the writer.  And editors themselves might disagree about what might be required to balance the need to maintain the ‘voice’ of the author while increasing the readability of his or her work.

A university prof once told me that my writing contained ‘an over-abundance of semi-colons’.  I recounted this once to a boyfriend and his mother, laughingly saying that I still believed that I used the punctuation correctly (if lavishly)… My boyfriend’s mother was an English teacher, and she sourly replied, “Well, if you’re using them abundantly then that suggests that you’re using them incorrectly.”  She never did like me, that one.

Anyway, conventions be damned – I like a good semicolon (as you may have gathered).

But I digress (NB: a good, independent, editor most likely wouldn’t have allowed me that tangent in the first place!)…  As a writer, I don’t need to concern myself too much with the editing end of things; particularly during the initial stage of crafting my story or article, my job is simply to create.  In the drafting stage, everything goes, in the hopes that this will render an inspired (albeit messy) result.  Then, as I work through my thoughts, sift through the words and phrases, and reassemble the paragraphs, I am able to hone these elements into something that more accurately conveys the tone and meaning I originally intended to express.

A good editor can take the most tangled, mangled, outpouring of prose and massage it into something that makes sense.  Careful editing will render the roughest draft more coherent and cohesive; when the prose itself has been written with care, the result can be delightful.

I am a Christian, and my life – like my writing – contains plenty of mistakes.  Sometimes I err even though I know better, but it’s my own life and thus I am blind to some of my faults.  I could choose to be territorial with my mistakes – I could choose to ‘own them with no regrets’ as popular culture sometimes challenges us to do.  But instead, I have given my work – my life – over to my Editor (who is the author and perfecter of Life itself); and he restores meaning and fluidity and harmony to the reading of it.

Without my Editor, my life would remain a rough draft; all the opportunities for enhanced meaning, harmonious expression and perfect prose would be lost.  All my messy mistakes would remain unchanged, disrupting the flow of my story and marring the page of my life.

But my Editor comes in and makes a clean sweep of my work.  He does not ‘track changes’; instead, He erases my mistakes without leaving a trace of them. He makes something new and fresh that is still wholly my own while also uniquely His.  The word that wasn’t quite right; the phrase that didn’t fit properly; the impediments to meaning – all of these stumbling blocks are smoothed over.

I work hard in the telling of my story.  I do my best to write something that is beautiful, inspiring, and honest.  But my Editor is the one who brings true meaning to my work.

The irony of it all is that He uses this blood-red pen to excise my mistakes – and it renders my page a gleaming white.





“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

-1 John 1:9


God is G-O-O-D

GOOD from torbakhopper on flickr


“Mummy,” asks my five-year-old, “How do you spell ‘God’?

Is it  ‘G-O-O-D’?”

C. is in Kindergarten, and right now his big thing is writing out random messages to accompany his elaborate – and, to the untrained eye (mine), confusing – line drawings.  This time he’s holding out a picture he has drawn of God, whom he has depicted with big hands, super-long legs, and a kindly, bearded face.

It’s funny that he should mix up ‘God’, with ‘good’, I think, and then it strikes me how apt it actually is…

One little spelling mistake, and C. has pretty much summed up one of the most important points about Christian theology:


When I was growing up, I was kind of a pleaser.  Not the kind of pleaser who sucks up to authority figures or manipulates people by making them like her, but just the kind of kid who has a puppy-dog desire to be good and do the right thing and hopefully to be recognized as being a good and respectful person.

There were pros and cons to being a pleaser as I was growing up.  One negative aspect of being a pleaser was the fear of displeasing people in authority.  I remember, in my second year of university, a prof suggesting that we hold a tutorial session in the pub.  I was still eighteen – under the legal age for drinking – and I was petrified about the prospect of this happening; if I were ID’d at the pub, I’d be thrown out (or, worse yet, arrested!) – but if I skipped the tutorial to avoid going in the pub, I’d be docked points for missing a classroom session… Either way, I was going to Get Into Trouble.  My relief was great when the plan to go to the pub didn’t eventuate. Weird that it never occurred to me to just tell the prof of my dilemma. I guess Not Causing a Fuss was right up there with Not Getting Into Trouble in terms of motivation for my actions (or inaction).

But God isn’t good like that.  God isn’t worried about Getting Into Trouble or Causing a Fuss. God is compassionate and dependable and motivated by love, not fear.  He wants us to do the right thing out of love, not fear, too.

Sometimes when we think of ‘good’ people, we think of people who smile disarmingly and remain cheerful and do sweet things without fail.  We think of people who are like walking Hallmark cards, whose lives are just full to the brim with selfless acts and sentimental moments.  People whose ‘goodness’ is almost off-putting, like Ned Flanders on The Simpsons.  And somehow, we have a bit of a distrust of this kind of ‘goodness’.  Like the infamous TV preachers whose hypocrisies tarnish the reputation of Christianity as a whole, these people seem ‘too good to be true’.

But God isn’t good like that, either.  God isn’t saccharine and ‘feel good’.  He just is Good.  Good with a capital ‘g’.  Strong good. Righteous good. Trustworthy good. There’s nothing flaccid or impotent or artificial about God’s goodness.

Want to know what God thinks about something?  Start with the premise that God is Good, and go from there.

If people are in pain or suffering and they want to know what God thinks about them going through that pain or suffering?  Well, God is GOOD – so he doesn’t like seeing people go through bad things.  He doesn’t always stop it, but that doesn’t mean he sends it.  Jesus wept when he heard his friend Lazarus had died, even though he planned to resurrect him (and did so shortly thereafter).  “The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” – Psalm 9:9

If you’re considering doing something you know is wrong?  God is good.  He’s not going to give you a stamp of approval for going against what is good and right. God wouldn’t be very good, or very strong, if he condoned wrongdoing for selfish gain.  “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” – James 4:17

God is good.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most misunderstood aspects of God in the minds of unbelievers.  Whether he has been misrepresented or stripped of his humanity or just plain misunderstood, God has often been portrayed as merciless, vengeful, even hateful. People who take Old Testament stories out of context and hold out God’s outcry against evil people and destructive practices as evidence against his goodness do him a bitter injustice.  They fail to give testimony to his many, many acts of compassion, mercy, provision and salvation throughout the history of man – and throughout our own lives, even when we have been oblivious to God’s abundant goodness and grace.

If you’re wondering who God really is and what he’s all about?  Know this:

God is spelled ‘G-O-O-D’.


“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

– Psalm 100:5