Editing: a pleasure and a pain


I once met a women who loved to edit; she described it as her raison d’etre. I don’t think I could hide my simultaneously horrified and also rather impressed facial expression. I suspect it is the same expression I have when my mother in law talks about cleaning. And yet my feelings towards editing my own work are rather similar to the feelings I have when contemplating cleaning; namely a mixture of fear and glee. And indeed there are quite a few big documents to edit during a PhD.

I tend to approach both tasks methodically. I start at the top and finish at the bottom with minimal deviations. Deviating from the logical course I have chosen tends to take up more time and thought- going up and down the house or a document, stopping and starting a task or train of thought are a waste of precious time. I find plowing through both easy and difficult tasks as they arise much more economical.

I find I must never shy away from a difficult task; be it scrubbing the oven or searching for additional appropriate justification. Both may take up a lot more time and effort than I would like but are just as important as quickly emptying the bin or correcting a grammatical error. In fact I value variety in tasks simply to provide a little respite. Sometimes I can enjoy a ‘light and easy’ task as a reward for completing the previous more tricky one. Trying to work on a series of really difficult things all in a row can become rather demoralising.

The truth is that towards the middle of these chores I start taking a bit of pleasure in the task at hand. And it always surprises me. I start to appreciate the sparkling, crumbless floor and the neatly justified lines of text. By the end I am sometimes a little satisfied and house proud!?!?

I have just finished editing a rather large document- my upgrade report. In order to continue on my PhD journey I must demonstrate my achievements to date. First this report and then a viva in a fortnights time. This is all a routine part of being a PhD student. Next up is writing my presentation for the viva. EEK! Wish me luck.

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