Over the last couple of weeks, I had the lovely and amazing privilege of editing my first book – Cory Copeland’s We are not Hoodlums. Every time I sat down to work on it, I was filled with a sense of peace and fulfillment. Deep down, I felt as if for the first time in years I was doing something I was meant to do, something I just might be good at. I enjoyed every single moment I spent working with Cory on his devotional, and I truly cannot wait for you all to share it with him.
But every so often during the time I spent editing, I found I had to pause. I had to sit back. Maybe part of it was because it was my first editing job or perhaps it was because I know Cory really well and was worried about how he would take a comment or critique, but I sometimes found myself doubting a suggestion I had carefully typed in the margin. I would read a sentence or a paragraph or an entry in the book, and the writer in me would have an idea. Something would come to me, and I would feel the need to share it with Cory, this train of thought that just maybe he would include.
And then two seconds would pass, and I could read a kind of arrogance in my words. Awkwardly, I found myself wondering if my suggestion was to help Cory or to insert my own ideas into the book. Was my suggestion from the writer in me or from the editor? Was it about Cory and his book, or about me?
Because the biggest thing I learned while editing the book was that it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about how I could say it “better” or how I could fill in a secret, missing piece, because I couldn’t. It wasn’t my book. It wasn’t my heart and soul left on the pages for you to read. It wasn’t my time and ideas and inspiration transformed into a message of hope. It wasn’t about me.
It wasn’t my voice. It was Cory’s. And it deserved to be respected.
And that was the tricky part, the challenge, the beauty of editing. My job was to make sure Cory’s words and voice and style were presented in a way that was true to him and the purpose behind the book. My job was to make sure everything fit together exactly as he intended. My job was to listen to his words and just maybe suggest a way to make them shine brighter. My job was to be an editor, not a writer.
It’s not always easy, being able to step back. We live in a society that is loud. We have so much to say, so many opinions to share. We know things, whether from experience or from things we’ve heard and read. And we want to share those things. We want to give our advice, our perspective, our opinion on a matter. We want to sway someone to our way of thinking. We want to give our two cents, whether it was asked for or not. We want to be involved in everything.
We want to leave our mark.
And it’s selfish, really; that need to insert ourselves into things that may or may not involve us. We want to be the one who says it better or who solves the problem or who gives the best advice. We want the satisfaction that comes from someone agreeing with us. It justifies us. It gives us a sort of meaning or worth. In that moment, we were right.
We’ve forgotten how to listen. How to sit back and give someone else their moment to say what is on their heart and mind. We forget that sometimes our friends and loved ones don’t need for us to constantly relate to their stories or struggles. They don’t always need to know that we’ve been there or that we know how to get past this problem. Sometimes, they just need us to sit next to them with an open heart and ready ears so they can speak their sorrows into our silence.
They don’t need us to fix their problems. They just need us to hear them. They just need us to love them and be there for them in the midst of the darkness.
They just need us in the most simple of ways.
Of course, there will be times when our opinion is solicited, when our advice is asked for. People will come to us and ask for our help, because they trust us. But even in those moments, there is a need to recognize that what works for you won’t work for everyone. We are all our own unique person, and how we approach life is different. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. So we tailor our advice to fit the situation. We understand that yes, I can offer a suggestion for a solution, but what worked for me may not work for them. And we must realize that our suggestion could be rejected. Not because it was bad, but because it didn’t fit. It’s not a reflection or rejection of us, because it’s not always about us.
Occasionally as I was working through Cory’s book, we would disagree. There were suggestions he didn’t take, some were minor and some were not. But even as we disagreed and presented our point, we listened. We respected and trusted each other enough to hear both sides and to consider them thoughtfully. And I think we both realized it wasn’t about being right. It was about open, honest communication.
And while I loved everything about editing that book, the thing I loved most was how I learned to edit myself in the midst of it. How to step back and let Cory’s words speak brilliantly and beautifully for themselves. I learned that it wasn’t about leaving my mark on the book, but about making sure that book was 100% Cory from beginning to end. I learned to listen to a man I respected, a man who inspires the writer in me with every word I read. Because I wasn’t always right. And I think that’s a lesson we can all take care to remember.
Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter >> @cassiclerget.
I’m pretty entertaining.
And Cory’s devotional We are not Hoodlums will be released on March 27!!! I hope you all check it out.