In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Warning: Editing + Fatigue = a Cranky Editor

My friend Doug, aka "Wise Guy," likes to say, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all."

This quote is attributed to both the great football coach Vince Lombardi and General George S. Patton Jr, of WWII fame.

Here's my version: Fatigue makes editors cranky.

Earlier this week, I was beyond tired. I also had mounds of editing to do. As the night slipped into the early morning, I found myself ... um ... acting out.

I talked to the computer screen. I asked questions like: "Did the writer forget the word count?" "How can I say this in one word instead of ten?" ""How many articles am I missing?"

My computer never answered me. So please, no one suggest medication.

I stopped typing, pounding my keyboard into submission. I'm surprised I didn't dislocate some of the keys.

I updated my Facebook status with snarky comments about the proper number of spaces between sentences. (One.) Several editors replied. Seems I'm not the only one who is up late editing.

At one point, I put my hands over my face and muttered, "I love my job. I love my job. I love my job."

And I do.

I was just overtired. The hours in my day ran out before my commitments ended.

That night I appreciated the solitary aspect of editing. No one else heard my ranting--except my husband, who brought me tea and hugs. I think of myself as an editor who respects writers. But if you'd sat in my office Tuesday night, you'd have thought otherwise.

All the ranting and raving? That was just the fatigue talking.

Fatigue. It happens. But it doesn't give me an excuse to slander writers. I don't know how tired that writer was when she hit "Send" and submitted an article that was 200 words over the requested word count. (Yeah, word count is an editorial pet peeve of mine. I'll admit it.)

I'm also responsible to balance my commitments as both a writer and an editor--and a wife and a mom--so that fatigue doesn't ambush me. That's called being a professional.

What about you? Does fatigue make you cranky? How do you manage your real life and your writing life so that you're not blindsided by exhaustion?

Photo by gozdeo/

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At 8:08 AM, Blogger Wendy Paine Miller said...

Fatigue messes with me big time. My kids will attest to this.

Coffee has a beautiful way of making me nicer. And prayer...and to your point, sleep. ;)
~ Wendy

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

Oh Beth, I so appreciate your transparency. :) Fatigue makes me grouchy, and my kids are usually the unwitting recipients of comments and snappy words, for just I often have the luxury of taking a short nap if I need to refresh my spirit and my attitude. When I don't, coffee (like Wendy), a few minutes to myself (reading and escaping) also help me to keep pressing forward wiht a better attitude.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

OK, it seems like coffee helps--or, in my case, tea.
And sleep.
And I alternate between encouraging worship music and some favorite kick-it-up country songs. (Keith Urban, anyone? Rascal Flatts?)

At 3:19 PM, Blogger Sarah Forgrave said...

Oh boy, do I ever understand! Me [minus] sleep [equals] not a pretty picture. Sometimes I just have to give in and pray that a fresh mind will work much faster the next day. :)

At 9:36 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

It's nice to know others understand the whole fatigue-cranky syndrome--and offer me grace. And, yes, sometimes all you can do is start over. Kind of the Scarlett O'Hara mindset--Tomorrow is another day!


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