by Sue A. Fairchild
I’m constantly thinking about relationships in my editing business. I like to get to know my authors and to understand why they write and what they hope to convey to their readers. It’s this constant consideration of the author/editor relationship that first came to mind one Sunday as my pastor spoke about the relationship we have with Christ.
My pastor talked about how grace and mercy are part of that relationship and I started thinking about how these two words could also relate to our relationships with our authors.
God’s example of mercy is not giving us what we deserve. We’re sinners. We don’t deserve mercy, we deserve much harsher treatment than God gives. Merriam-Webster gives several definitions for the word mercy, and two include the word compassion. “Compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power” and “Compassionate treatment of those in distress.”
I think plenty of authors would agree that the editing process can be distressful! As editors, we can assist by offering compassion.
When we connect with our authors, do we offer mercy? Have you ever stopped yourself from typing, “No! Use only ONE space after a sentence!!!” instead of gently reminding the author it is now standard procedure to use only one space? I know I sometimes get upset with new authors—ones who have difficulty with the standards we, as professionals, know. However, it’s up to us who have greater knowledge to extend mercy and help each author learn when we can. We need to be compassionate to them and strive to assist.
What about grace? Grace—in biblical terms—is God giving us something we do not deserve. I thought this word seemed a bit harder to connect to the relationship we have with our authors until I saw one definition in MW: “the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful.” That’s what we should be doing every day to everyone we meet—not just those we’re mentoring or editing. It seems simple, doesn’t it? Sometimes, though, we might let the stress of deadlines or the anxiety of work overwhelm us, and we forget to extend grace.
I often forget to offer praise while editing. All too often I edit, pointing out errors along the way, but forget to also include praise for well-written passages or finely constructed thoughts. In my head, I rationalize that the author will know if I don’t offer any comments, the section is fine as is. However, who among us doesn’t need a little praise every now and again? Doesn’t it make it easier to accept the corrections? By offering praise to an author, we exhibit grace by being thoughtful of the author’s feelings as well as build on the relationship with that author. We begin to relate on a deeper level—one that speaks to the human heart.
If we wish to increase our business as well as connect on a deeper level with our authors, we should always keep grace and mercy in mind.
In addition, reminding ourselves about grace and mercy will help us stay focused on the Lord—always a good practice!
Sue A. Fairchild is a freelance editor, blog coordinator for the PEN Tips Blog, and Christian author. Her clients include a USA Today Bestselling author. In addition, Sue has been published in Christian devotion magazines, two Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and has self-published two novels currently available on Amazon. Find out more about her by following her on Twitter and Instagram.