By TOM CHMIELEWSKI

Writers rarely, it seems, get a chance to write for themselves. I have written for grizzled newspaper editors, corporate magazine editors, demanding book editors and anonymous online copy editors. Some have been good, others not so much. As one might expect, the anonymous online editors for production line content providers include some of the worst, but others there may have been among the best. The contact with them, however, has been too minimal to know. The nature of the beast, I guess.

Truly the best editors I’ve had were with newspapers. The nature of a dying beast, perhaps, as most of those are now retired, and the good ones from the following generation bought out or simply let go.

Yet despite all these editors I’ve written for, I used to tell other reporters that if the story appears under our byline, we were ultimately writing for ourselves. We may have been under the illusion that we were writing for editors, and some copy editors foster that illusion by insisting on making irrelevant changes in the copy so they could leave their fingerprints there.

Other copy editors were quite willing to tear my stories apart, but these were the best editors because they really cared about good writing and wanted to strip away excess baggage. Often they were wrong, and I never hesitated to tell them so. But fair’s fair. Often I was wrong, and they never hesitated, either. I ended up having great arguments with these editors. Not great as in loud or rambunctious, though sometimes they were. Great as in invigorating and creative. We were collaborating to make a good story better. Remembering those times reminds me that I don’t miss the newspaper that much, but I do miss the newsroom.

Despite the collaboration, however, I was still fighting for MY story. If an editor changed my story in a way that misinterpreted what I meant, I had to correct that misinterpretation, but I also had to figure out how my copy misled her. That collaboration drilled down to the core of what I was trying to write. Admittedly, not every story demanded that much passion. But if it was going to end up under my byline, I had better be proud of it.

Which is really why I got into writing this first entry in my blog. I was going to simply put in some old copy or some Greek text just to see how using WordPress worked. But even if I didn’t let people know the blog existed, someone could have stumbled upon it. More important, it seemed to me the first thing I should do in making this site active is write something, something that I wouldn’t mind other people seeing. Something I want other people to read.

Which brings up the writer’s last illusion. As much as I told other writers and myself that we weren’t writing for editors but for ourselves, that’s not really true either. It doesn’t matter what a writer writes if no one reads it. We write for readers. And on the off chance that even one person might read this, I write for you.

As I get going with this blog, I’ll be writing about e-publishing that I’m involved in, the foibles of journalism as it exists today and the strengths it still has, and of writing and creativity. I will refine the blog’s tone as I go along. I do have a novel that needs to see the light of day – soon, I promise – and you may see more about that here. I have published a multimedia ebook, and certainly I will write about ebooks. And I will start telling people to come by and give my stories a read.

Advertisements