Monday, August 31, 2009

It's true that all reviews matter


This morning began with a demand from a contractor at my company to hurry up (no “please” in there) and input the extensive edits I got from him, and then send it back “for his review” and he will then send it on to someone else in the company for their final review.

Except the edits are not great, and my job is to manage the writing process here—not him.

Now perhaps the contractor was in a hurry and had to go the bathroom and therefore rushed the e-mail and it sounded curter than he intended. Poor guy, I hope he made it in time. I also like to think, “He doesn’t know I was a technical writer for 10 years, or that I have a master’s degree in English or that I write novels.” True, he doesn’t know that, but none of that matters, either. The fact is, he found something in the document that needed improving. While his request tone and wording sure could use a lot of work (including a hefty dollop of tact), it remains that no matter how rude someone is when they give you edits, edits are probably still needed. I would love nothing more for the guy to be completely wrong and to have marked up a document that was perfection itself, but the document wasn’t perfect.

There’s obviously some respect issues at play here, but those don’t matter either, because the guy is a contractor. He can disrespect me all he wants, but he has no ability to direct the review process. The burn comes from the fact that I really do need to be diligent and look at his suggested edits (although he did not use the word “suggested”), and apply them where appropriate. That I must do—because no matter what, you can learn from everyone. This rule applies across the board in any situation that involves writing. Writing is hard. For me, it takes a lot of work to polish something and make sure it is concise and as clear as it can be. I will edit this post at least ten times before publishing, and then I will read it five more times after it's published and go back and make changes (and they will all be needed changes). Learning to discern what edits to take and what not to take is a skill we must develop, but it all comes down to this: if someone has an edit for you, it’s because they tripped up on something you wrote. You don’t want other readers to trip up. It could very well be that the edits themselves are wrong, but you still need to look at them. (Hopefully you can discard them in a fit of chortling glee that the reviewer was wrong, dead-wrong, hugely wrong in a black cloud of smelly wrongness, but sadly, in my experience these moments are few and far between.)

PS I did the dog photo in Photoshop, but I ripped the photos themselves from comixed.com, which is a very funny offshoot of Lolcats and Failblog.

1 comment:

coffeelvnmom said...

Love the dogs. You made me laugh. And I agree. Bottom line, we don't want to trip up the readers. Our main goal is to explain it as simply yet interestingly (two adverbs in the same sentence! AHHH!) as possible. If only it were as easy as it sounds. Guess the best way to look at it is, we're getting better every day - the editing is progressing every day - so how can that be anything other than a good thing, right?

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