Why Editing is like a Toothbrush

The other day I realised it’d been far too long since I’d given my teeth a proper deep clean.

I pulled out my weapons of torture (toothbrush, electric toothbrush, floss, tongue cleaner, mouthwash, and every other conceivable item) and set to work.

Courtesy of stock.xchng

Almost look like pens....

I flossed, brushed, brushed again, examined, poked my gums, gargled, and took the opportunity to stare at myself in the mirror. All the while I was thinking – daydreaming, really – about monkeys and zebras and quills and this blog.

Yup, this very blog.

Why do I limit myself to mainly writing about writing? I wondered. It’s my blog. I could write anything. What if my true calling is to write about teeth, and my single mindedness means I’m forever missing out?

Anna Harte, tooth cleaner. I considered the proposition. Then realised: I couldn’t just write about brushing teeth. There would have to be a deeper meaning. Something like — I spat out a white froth of mouthwash — the fact that no matter how much you clean, your teeth will never be 100% dirt-free.

Almost like a novel, in fact.

An editor at Random House once told me: “There is no such thing as the perfect book.” No matter how much you clean and inspect and proofread your novel, mistakes will get through.

Just like your teeth, your novel needs diligent cleansing. You may not catch every mistake, but you’ll stop them from multiplying into infections and cavities.

Do you want your novel to spend hours under the drill, being tortured and prodded and filled with amalgam?

No? I thought not. So pick up your editing toothbrush and get to work.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how my non-writing related post turned into one about writing. I suppose I’ve found my calling after all….

4 thoughts on “Why Editing is like a Toothbrush

  1. So what you are trying to tell us is that you are starting a new career as a dental hygienist? I have to be honest, I didn’t see that move coming.
    Cheers funny lady. Keep up the good work.

    Sebashi ~ Needs to get back to actual work now

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