Written by Martin Wiles
In The Andy Griffith Show episode, “Those Gossipin’ Men,” Aunt Bea and a friend sat in the local drug store enjoying a cool drink on a hot day. While spreading gossip between themselves, they were startled when a stranger came in and tried to sell them a pair of shoes, stunned because he didn’t try hard. In fact, they labeled him the “tamest shoe salesman” they’d ever seen.
Before the salesman’s arrival, Andy had accused the ladies in town of gossiping because they had “killed Barney off,” when in reality he had only cut his finger while cleaning his pistol. The tame traveling shoe salesman afforded Aunt Bea and her friend a chance to prove that just as much gossip flowed from Floyd’s Barber Shop. So, when Andy and Barney asked who the stranger was, the two women planted a seed of doubt in their “conceited” male minds by questioning the traveling salesman’s honesty.
Before long, Andy and the other men in town had turned a washed-up shoe salesman into a New York City television producer. Andy and the other men in town gathered their sons and daughters to audition for him, buying numerous pairs of shoes in the process. The traveling salesman came to town a rejected mess but left a success.
Some who come to us for editing assistance are like the shoe salesman but don’t know it. As editors, we know that every writer—no matter their level—needs an editor. We know because many of us are writers too. But sometimes writers don’t know how badly they need an editor. They don’t see the redundancies, the repetitions, inaccuracies, plot holes, t flat characters, or grammatical errors. And sometimes they don’t respond favorably when we point them out through our red marks and comments. We also know they’re not ready for the rejection(s) they will inevitably face.
In life we’ll be turned down for promotions, teams, dates, marriage proposals, jobs, projects, clubs, community organizations, writing assignments, book proposals, and editing jobs. Rejection hurts.
But life teaches us—often the hard way—that rejection is a part of our existence. As editors, how we word our comments and interact with our clients will go a long way in helping them see we are friends, not enemies. We want their work to shine, but we also want to help them move on when rejections come—not change their voice or make their work sound as if we had written it.
God gives editors beautiful opportunities to help writers through periods of rejection. Let’s not waste them.
Martin Wiles is an author, pastor, English teacher, and editor who resides in Greenwood, South Carolina. He is the administrator/assistant editor for VineWords: Devotions and More, the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions, and the Senior Editor for Inspire a Fire. He is the founder/editor of the internationally recognized devotion site, Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). He also serves as a freelance editor with several publishing companies. His most recent book is Don’t Just Live … Really Live (Ambassador International). He has also been published in numerous publications.