Its about my experiences as a published writer of features for newspapers and magazines …..
I always thought that what you read in an article is exactly how the writer planned it. It isn’t. In fact many a times when a writer sees his or her work in print – it comes as a shock. It can be a very pleasant one. Or an unpleasant one, depending on the editor, or printer’s mood or skill – which ever is worse!!
Of course while writing, a writer also feels secure in the knowledge that her work will be read by an editor. I mean, “a huge blunder cannot be printed” she thinks. What a writer does not realise is that the editor’s as well as a printer’s blunders might be added to his own!!! So one can come up with a rhapsody of blunders in the finished printed version.
When I first became affiliated with writing, I worked with the well known Editor of Tuesday Review, Dawn, Najma Babar (who is no longer with us – God bless her soul), one day she narrated this joke to me once: “It is said that when a doctor makes a mistake – he buries it. When a lawyer makes a mistake – he hangs it. And when a writer makes a mistake – he splashes it all over town!”
After about twenty six years of free lance writing in the leading dailies and monthlies of the country, I have come across many versions of my writings. After the thrill of seeing my work in print wears off, I read the article. First of all, the title comes as a shock! “This was not the topic I had written on!!” I think. Then I have to agree that its not bad as a heading! As I read through my familiar words in the unfamiliar print I find out that printing errors are quite a few. But well, the readers are used to these! I suddenly remember that I hadn’t quite ended the article as its been ended here! And then remember how I had carried on and on while writing. So of course the editor had to do a bit of chopping – after all that is what he is there for! The entire magazine is not dedicated to my solitary and long drawn out musings alone!
Many times while reading an article of mine, I have some across words that are totally alien to me. I realise that the editor got quite carried away and decided to add in a bit of his own flowery vocabulary as well! Thanks a lot.
But let me grant this. No editor changes the ideas of the writer. The basic ideas and thoughts belong to the writer. Changing a word here, and a sentence there or chopping a paragraph here or a heading there, is all that has happened!
Generally, I send in some photographs or sketches to complement my article. This too comes as a surprise. Sometimes the sketch is not so good, (I will have to accept!), but when I see it in print – I am thrilled. It has been blown up and looks really good! Paradoxically, I send in a ‘work of art’ and it appears as a pathetic drawing in one corner. A coloured photograph is printed in black and white and dim print. Yet, sometimes the photograph is given a full prominence in superb colour and impressive size.
And then as I look at the other articles, I realise that the same must have happened with the other writer’s works. So what you read is a merging of the writer’s editor’s and printer’s work. You’ve got to give the devils their due!
So after all is said and done, I am as eager as can be, to see how an article will finally appear! – (If at all!) I mean the possibility of rejection cannot be ruled out either!
As they say “There is many a slip between the cup and the lip!”
Thank you so much for stopping by…. stay blessed. 🙂