Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


In Praise of Editors and Editing

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

If you think you’ve got a lock on reality, think again. We are constantly commercing in impressions, approximations, and constructions. What can you do with this glimpse of reality, especially if you are trying to write about it?  A good editor will catch your gaps, your departures from reality.

A good editor will show you where you have not expressed what you intended to express and guide you towards what you meant in the first place.

No text is truth. All text is context. Every moment adopts a perspective. You, as the author of that moment, are blind to that perspective (even when you edit your own creations). This is where an editor becomes worth her weight in gold.

I miss a lot of linkages in the continuity between now and what I think is now. I drop words, assume meanings that could not possible be so, given current conditions, and assume my reader is along for the ride when he fell out of the car a few sentences ago (not to mention my copious grammatical errors).

I beg your forgiveness, Dear Reader, for forgetting what you might be experiencing. I am blind to my obfuscating texts, unaware of my dropped associations, and my obtuse to my implied senses.

It is hard to examine a text in much the same way that is hard to examine a moment of being alive. We are rushed, hurried, pressured to move on to the next moment, so much so that we take shortcuts that compromise clarity. It is hard to sit with now; it’s hard to see what is hear in front of us. We “construct” this moment out of guesses. If you are lucky, you guessed well. I am often astonished how poorly I guess. What seemed so clear is a train wreck. Really? Did I really write that (and then not notice how I wrote that!).

I am working on my latest book project. I have profound gratitude to have an energetic, candid, and skilled first editor (well, second if you include my haphazard efforts). She is a writer, too, an accomplished author of several books, including the award-winning, While in Darkness There is Light. She is also a faculty member of Spaulding University’s MFA program.

Thank you Ellie. How fortunate your Spaulding students and I are to have your editorial eye.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nate Orshan

    I wonder about the relationship of mindfulness to editing. It seems to me that the fundamental role of an editor is to put her/himself into the head of a neutral reader (i.e., a person who is reading the text for the very first time) and, in so doing, to evaluate if the text has the effect the writer intended. This would seem to require that the editor maintain a sort of “reader’s persona” which s/he continuously uses in order to make judgements about the text,

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nate Orshan

    (Oops, posted before I could spell-check or finish, a wonderfully ironic meta-editing problem.)

    …and, in doing so, it seems as though this persona would be at odds with being mindful.

    In other words, if you’re being a good editor, you’re essentially inhabiting a mind other than the one you actually have at this moment, which would seem, if not the antithesis of mindfulness, at odds with the practice’s imperative of being here now.

  • http://louellabryant.com Ellie

    Nate ~ According to Chinese Buddhism, “One Mind is the Buddha Mind or the Consciousness of the Absolute Oneness.” And in Paul’s letters to the Philippians, he advises, “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” So, in response to your musings, yes..an editor and you and I and Dr. K can inhabit another’s mind because there is only one mind.

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