Editing, friendship, art, and the Body of Christ

I like editing.  It’s not that I enjoy finding fault, but when I read things that have been written by others, I frequently think, “Oh, this would have been so much more effective if the author would have done this or said it that way, or put this part first…”  Other than my own writing (and I feel like we are most often our worst editors), the only thing I regularly edit is a missions newsletter, and even then, I’m not the “executive editor” — final decisions are not made by me;  it’s more like I’m a second pair of eyes, and the grammar-check person.

I especially like editing when I know the person who is doing the writing;  I want their true voice to come out in what they’ve written, and I think that doesn’t come naturally to most people;  they have to be coaxed.  And, I have observed that many, many people write as if the reader knew their history, and there’s a major mental adjustment that they need to make, in order to frame their ideas for total strangers.  But, if I’m editing for someone I know, whose history I know, whose voice I know, I can help bring that out.

A friend of mine is working on a book, and — as I had hoped — she asked me to be part of the editing process.  I think she has something very unique and powerful and useful and what she has NEEDS to be written;  I believe very firmly in that.  So, I jumped in with great gusto.  But, when I saw how involved the process would be, I started dragging my feet.  It was not an issue of, “I don’t have the time;” the problem was, “There’s so much work to be done here, so much cutting to the core, so much asking her to do things that don’t come naturally to her, such a great risk of offense…” well, I started feeling like if I was honest, it could very potentially permanently damage our relationship, no matter how gentle I was about it.  It’s her baby, and I needed to tell her, “Your baby doesn’t look quite right, and it’s going to require major surgery to raise your baby to maturity.”

But, we had a conversation yesterday where she expressed her disappointment with how little I’ve provided for her;  she wants to work, and feels like she’s at a dead end until she gets more feedback from me.  We hung up, with me committing to send her more ASAP… After we talked, I ended up running errands by myself for a couple of hours, and had a lot of time to reflect.  That’s when I concluded that, really, I was afraid of destroying our relationship, afraid of highly discouraging her and offending her with strong words…

So, I prayed about it and decided to take the bull by the horns and send her an e-mail that addressed two serious, overriding issues with her book.  I suggested that she 1) enlist the help of a co-author who can write vividly and creatively with great detail (I have, a few times, written and asked her for MORE detail, MORE detail, MORE detail), and 2) write gently to unfold and build the reader’s trust, not from a position of, “I am the authority on this.”

I sent it off with great trepidation.

She quickly replied,

O yes… that is soooo helpful…..thank you for that…it makes GOOD sense. You are so right. This is the scoop….. I am a “get to the point person” and I am thinking people will be bored with what I have to say, so I make it straight from the cuff. I can see your view point and need to change.  Today [a friend] will give me a call and maybe we can do this together (making it more detailed and exciting)  You are so wise Karen and I love what you are doing for me I will try to rewrite my stuff keeping mind all you instructed. I do want to make this colorful like the pictures God gives me. There is so much detail going on in my brain, but I am afraid to let it all out for fear people will be bored. Please do not give up on me.

I was greatly relieved, and very excited about her response!

I wrote further:

After we talked yesterday, I was reflecting on the book situation, and what it was that was causing me to drag my feet, and it was this: That there is great risk of offending you, or discouraging you, because I think it’s going to take a lot of work to turn it into a real book. I am a lot less confrontational than I used to be, and a lot more worried about preserving relationship, and I don’t want to cause offense!! But, I dearly want the Body of Christ to benefit from what you have learned, and what God has shown you. I strongly believe there is a need for what you have! So, I thought I might as well just risk it, and send you two “hard” things, and we’d take it from there…

So, I’m very relieved that you’re not discouraged or offended.

I know you said you are hard to offend, and it’s not like I’m TRYING to offend you; I want to be gentle… but still, maybe it was the enemy whispering to me that you’d be so hurt by anything I had to say that it would permanently damage our relationship, and maybe have even worse fallout!! Must have been his lies…

I will dive back in, and while I will still be careful how I speak, I will now be able to identify the enemy’s lies, and will no longer be afraid that our work together will break our relationship.

And, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not be afraid that people will be bored. You are a unique woman, with a unique history, and God has taught you unique things, and used you in unique way. I think it’s impossible for you to be boring. So, just say all there is to say, and if we need to pare it down, then, we’ll do that. But, if you have MORE, please write more.

There are a few people who like art like this:

Red Square 1915 by Kasimir Malevich

Red Square 1915 by Kasimir Malevich

But, MORE people like art like this:

The Last Days of Summer by S.M. Lee

The Last Days of Summer by S.M. Lee

Do you know what I mean?

And she did know what I meant, because she responded:

Yes it did help…. and now I am crying because I soooo get the point. It so spoke to me … ( the blah and the vivid picture). It actually knocked me for a loop.. a good loop. ” Oh God… open my eyes to be able to present the world with a colorful exciting picture of what Prophetic Art is all about” ” Please Lord help me to get it out into the open “

You are soo precious Karen and please be as rough with me as you need to be. As you said… this needs to get out… I so believe this. It is all for the Kingdom and I do not care if it offends me…. I quickly get over that kind of stuff … for I sure know that it is not about me.

I think I will go into some fasting and see if there are some blocks in me that need to be knocked loose…. something that is holding me back.

The thing that is amazing to me about this whole exchange is that… no matter if you believe the source of the confusion is satan or not, I do.  I just do.  He’s the father of lies, and the author of confusion.  Here I was thinking that my friend was going to hate me, that what I had to say was going to hurt her, hurt our friendship, that our working together, in turn, would hurt me… and instead, the exact opposite has happened.  She appreciates my input, I am able to communicate with her in a way that really makes sense, makes an impact, I am re-invigorated to work with her, and far from her hating me, she regards me all the more precious!!

This might seem off-topic, but to me, it just goes back to the value of the Body of Christ.  Yes, you can be a Christian without being part of a local community of believers — that is, a church.  But, I SSSSOOOOOOOO don’t want to ever be apart from the Church.  It’s too valuable.  I am convinced that God the Father has designed that we, as believers, be in a place where we can give and receive, where we can grow in relationship, where we can be stretched, where we can be challenged, yet given the grace to stumble, then rejoice with each other when the stumbling ends up producing fruit after all the error and confusion is rooted out.  We tend the garden together, and celebrate and enjoy the abundance all the more, together!!

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on July 27, 2009, in Art, Christian Living, Christianity, Encouragement, Friendships, God/Christianity/Church, Vineyard Phoenix, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Not the point, I know, but I very much like “Red Square,” particularly since it’s not square.

    • Hi, Gary!! I like that it’s not square, too. I like a fair bit of abstract painting. However, I think sometimes the artists are… reaching, or something. I have a harder time appreciating the subtitle for that painting (Painterly Realism of a Peasant Woman in Two Dimensions) than I do the painting itself. I just don’t like when artists of any sort act too insider-y, like it’s all some sort of jest that is outside the observer’s reach, unless you are in the know of such-and-such obscure idea or irony. Or something. 🙂

  2. I don’t know exactly why I guess… but I just really enjoyed this post a lot. a whole lot. 🙂

  3. Prophetic Art? Gee I would like to hear more about that 🙂

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