I got more than a sense of deja vu from rereading these chapters. It was a much needed refresher on the importance of clarity. I could edit my writing over and over, whittling down unnecessarily long sentences. Perhaps the more conscious I can be as I write, the less time I will have to spend re-writing.
More often, I choose not to edit. The slow edit is a reminder I needed. I can quickly get my ideas on paper, then go back and take a hard look at whether I have expressed them in the clearest way possible.
Grammar always has weird surprises. Take the example at the bottom of page 51, for instance: “The boys track team.” That’s correct? I would have put an apostrophe on the end of boys without a second thought, and it would have survived every subsequent, oblivious edit. I highlighted this last semester, so that perhaps I would remember; hopefully this time, since I am writing about it here, it will stick.
Editing is not solely about picking apart our writing. It is also about the big picture, as Shay Quillen offers in his One Last Thing. Has the piece accomplished what it set out to do? That question is even more important than one of sentence structure and misplaced modifiers.
The chapters we revisit here remind us what we are doing, and how we do it. If we have important things to say, it is important that we say them well.