One of my favourite bloggers Jennifer at Enjoy Life For Once! wrote a post this week about editing: Editing as an Act of Compassion. It’s such a unique, beautiful idea. Although I am an aspiring writer, I hate the thought of editing. I try to get it right the first time so I don’t have to go back over it. The idea of reading an essay I have written for uni makes me want to curl up and die (so I make my husband do it).
But Jennifer’s article gave me some inspiration…maybe editing just needs to be approached from a different angle. It doesn’t have to be laborious. It can be a kind and generous act. Think of it as a gift to readers…why waste your reader’s time on unnecessary or less-than-wonderful material?
Jennifer’s post came at an interesting time for me, as I have only recently been thinking about “editing” my life. There are little corners (literally) that need to be tidied. Such corners look like this…
Midden (n) ~ a dunghill or pile of refuse
As a child and a teenager, I was instructed by my dear mother to remove my little middens from the kitchen bench, or the living room, or wherever they found their home.
As an adult, middens are accumulations of daily debris – the things I don’t quite get around to putting away, because Elka needs to do ring-a-ring-a-rosie or something equally important. It’s incredible how long a midden can remain before being tidied away.
My middens are a bit like the piles of paperwork I know I have to, at some point, attend to. The logic goes…during the day, I have no opportunity because I am doing too many ring-a-ring-a-rosies and at night (when I have time) I think, I might just do something fun for myself…I’ll get to that paper stuff tomorrow night. One more day won’t make any difference.
I need to edit those papers and those middens. I have a baby due in two months. These are two of the things that need to be neatly omitted from my to-do-list. As an act of compassion to myself.
There are other things that need my editorial attention.
We consistently leave the house in an incredibly stressful rush. Our appointments aren’t usually that crucial – a coffee with a friend or yoga class. I am rushing around, grabbing shoes for Elki, jutie, fruit, a change of clothes, trying to brush her hair, brush her teeth…and she is rushing around, telling me we are in a rush, and looking for her bag – “Mummy, where’s my bag? I need my bag! No, not that one. The one with butterflies. The blue one! Mummy, where is Betsy gone? I need Betsy!”
“Elka, darling, we need to go! We are in a rush. I have no idea where Betsy is.”
“But I need her!”
By the time we are all in the car, strapped in, with Betsy strapped in next to Elka (she was in the pram), I need to listen to nursery rhymes to calm down. It’s ridiculous. And poor little Elki obviously picks up on my stress, filing it into her emotional dictionary.
What can I do to make these edits?
I can approach one midden at a time. Take my handbag, and empty it out. Start again. As a friend once said, when it feels like your life is in chaos, start with your purse. Clean it out. Then move onto the handbag. Before you know it, you will have cleaned the windows. One. Midden. At. A. Time.
I can start on that paperwork. Tomorrow.
And I can chill a little the next time we need to leave the house. Maybe I can start preparations earlier (is that even possible?) Give it two hours instead of one. Put the fruit, the jutie, the change of clothes and Betsy in the basket well before take off. And breathe…it’s just a coffee. My friend will be forgiving if we are five minutes late.
These are the edits I need to make. There are more. Like being more patient. More present. More sympathetic. Nicer to my husband. Nicer to myself.
As an act of compassion to myself and my family I will apply myself, despite my greatest resistance against editing, to the changes I need to make, to make life happier, more peaceful and more tidy for all.
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