In the meantime however, friend and retired journo Jon Denton replied to my post about iced tea...with an editor's eye catching something I missed.
"Everybody needs an editor," I used to yell.
Jon wondered if his scree was too long for a comment on the post. Well, yes, but not too long for a guest post.
I've edited it a little, but enjoy, this first guest post on my blog: (And thanks, Jon.)
Terry … As always I enjoyed your Coffee With Clark blog ... This time on iced tea (or is it ice tea?) It made me want to dig out my flip-flops and head to a hilltop back porch where it is always sunny and warm, whatever the weather.
Not sure this qualifies as a blog, especially given it's nature. I'm critiquing a guy with a bunch of initials after his name … and a good friend, too, or at least he has been.
I don't understand the whole business of blogs. They are kind of like purple cows. Most people would rather read one than be one. But I notice how often bloggers relax when they write.
Take your first graph in the tea story: "You know we're in trouble in mid-February when you crave and the first iced tea of the year."
An alert editor would have toggled a correction and moved on, probably without mentioning it. Or he might have guessed your meaning and put “a hot dog” between “crave” and “and.”
That’s what editors do, and exactly why you don’t need one. It’s my experience that editors edit from the top down. They are rational. They make sense first and if the story is worthy, let the message begin.
That might not sit well with true bloggers. They seem to write from the inside out. Same thing goes for the blogger-challenged among us. We write cryptic texts on our cell phones.
My daughter, who did college kind of like others do lunch, recently texted this: “Do u wanna eat today @_1?” She was a communications major until she decided she liked steak instead of ink. Her intent was clear, about the lunch, too.
That reminds me of another story that is appropriate, if a bit off topic. When I was just out of college I got my first job at the Guthrie Daily Leader. The editor kind of grinned when I asked him about the pay. “Son,” he said (he was all of 10 years older than me … People didn’t last long at the Leader), “Son, we give you $70 a week and all the newspapers you can eat.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or what, so I signed up. That was the beginning of a fierce reporter-editor relationship which led me to quit two years later in a fit over 60-hour weeks, Saturdays and Sundays included … Lots of ink on the hands … Very little steak.
Back to blogs.
Once again we are in a literary mood when content trumps style. That attitude was popular during the American Revolution. The newspapers and flyers of the day were not always literate but they were passionate. It was not how they wrote. It was what they said. And it changed the world.
It is my view that we pay too much attention today to how we say things. Do that and we fall into the camp of the politically correct. It’s a cautious trap, an earthly version of writers’ purgatory.
Blogs and texts offer a relaxed template. Good writers master both, as you demonstrate with your focus on the weather and tea, then hapless, war-wrecked Syria. Nice contrast … sweet tea and a sour conflict.
Please keep writing and encouraging others … Thank you for the relaxed blogs … And as some say, never let an editor get in the way of a good story. – Jon Denton, Mustang