“I think this should be present tense,” she told me, beginning to change the words without my approval. She was the special edition editor, and I a mere writer.

“Well, I think that’s a matter of personal style. I’m a past-tense person, myself. Also, present tense will make it sound awkward towards the end of the article,” I told her.

I watched bitterly as the blinking cursor chewed strong past-tense endings and left weaker present tense remains. I squirmed, causing the low computer chair to creak.

“Um… you missed ‘explained’- it should be ‘explains’, And ‘chops’ has one ‘p’, not two,” I said feigning impartialness. What I really wanted to tell her is that if she was going to bastardize my words, at least do it correctly.

“How’s that?” she asked after reordering the clauses in a sentence mid-way through the piece.

“Again, it’s a matter of personal style. I wanted the name of the bakery at the beginning because it stands out in the reader’s mind more,” I said. But I relented, straining my arm forward and pecking at the see-through keys to bandage the wound inflicted on my words.

“I don’t understand this quote,” she told me, reading aloud the sentence in question. It was a fair criticism, so I explained what it meant. “We need to add something there to fix it, because I really don’t understand it.”

She offered a long diatribe to clarify the quote, often rephrasing it mid-word as she struggled with wording. I saw the idea she had formed in her mind and wasn’t convinced. Finally, I pecked out something short and awkward which seemed to appease her.

“Look, I’ll just rewrite the tenses- you have a lot more to worry about. Just let me know about any major edits.” I said, the impatience and frustration seeping into my voice. As a fifth year senior majoring in English and Comparative Literature, how do you gently tell a mere college freshman what the difference between editing and rewriting is? How do you explain that people have different writing styles you need to consider when editing?

She laughed softly at something I had written. Well, at least she was enjoying my article, I thought darkly. Continuing to laugh, she changed the tenses to random words- missing others and increasing my bitterness.


  1. This is how you gently tell a mere college freshman what the difference between editing and rewriting is:

  2. Pst more lol.