Writing versus editing: What's your pick?

Editing is like fixing somebody’s half-cooked dish. You can renovate it, but it still has someone else’s stamp...

Farahnaz Moazzam April 17, 2013
As a writer and editor, I have a tough time deciphering what I like doing more: writing something from scratch, with my name under the headline, and the promise of a growing readership? Or ripping someone else’s work to shreds and rebuilding the story.

Writing is like making a dish from scratch (not reporting, where you basically state facts): you choose the ingredients and the recipe. You are responsible for the end result. The credit is yours as is the criticism. But editing is like fixing somebody’s half-cooked dish. You can renovate it, rebuild it. You can add a few additional ingredients and basically make it better. But it still has someone else’s stamp on it. Always.

I am a doer and a fixer. When I write, I am a doer. When I edit, I am a fixer.

A dear friend called me the other day and asked,
“Are you enjoying editing? But you are a writer! Editing is such a thankless job!”

And I honestly didn’t agree with her.

The joy of fixing is unmatched. Something like, well, a non-platonic relationship. Often, the person we meet in our lives and fall for is a recipe that is almost cooked. Almost. And so are we. Each one of us is an editing project, for no story is perfect, as is no human.

It also depends on the discretion of the editor. Because often, according to the writer, what he/she wrote is perfect. But what does the person editing it feel? Is it perfect to him/her?

Mostly not. Yet, some stories are a joy to edit. Often, the really messed up and hard ones. The ones that suck the most energy out of you. Provided that the story did have some substance. In the end, that story smiles back at you. Polished. Poignant. You look at your own work in admiration, inwardly comparing it with what the original looked like. Something like spouses look at the happier or more groomed versions of the person they married, years down the lane.

Writing is beautiful. It is cathartic. But it is also pure narcissism. Editing, though, is tougher, because you are the unsung hero here. I think I need to do both.

Read more by Farahnaz here or follow her on Twitter @FarahnazZahidi
Farahnaz Zahidi


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