Editing, the writer’s word for repentance and grace. It’s always painful and always redemptive.
In case you find yourself in a writing and editing phase of life, here is some advice. Don’t worry, it’s not from me.*
From George Orwell**, who was an outstanding author despite my ardent dislike of 1984–
- “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word if a short word would do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”
*Andy shared this with me, and it’s just the sort of thing that endears him to me. What kind of 20-something year-old guy reads essays by George Orwell on his lunch break? My guy. My guy.
**Orwell, George. 1968. Politics and the English language. In The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angos, vol. 4, ed. 1, 127-40. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jananovich.