Editing life

As an editor, nipping and tucking voluminous text is a vital part of my job. No matter how interesting the original text by the writer is, I have to cull out several portions of it due to paucity of space. Yesterday night, while editing a particularly interesting interview, I realised that my reader would only see what’s on the page (subjectively selected by me) and will never know of the vastness of the original piece of writing (even if it may have been just as good).

And suddenly, it connected to a larger framework of life. The various situations and events in our lives are like the original draft that the writer sends in. Our default relationships, joys, griefs and routines are part of that piece sent to the editor. The landscape of our lives is presented to us the way the reporter sends in her report, raw and ready to be used. Destiny, Fate: the sundry ‘things that happen to us’.

Once the editor opens the copy on her computer, that’s when Free Will steps in: ‘what I make of the things that happen to me’. I have a limited number of pages and a limited word count (days and moments of our lives). What will I choose to publish from that plethora of information – sensory, emotional, intellectual? What will finally make it into the Big Story of My Life? What holds my attention, what is important to me? What is that I choose to define me? What pictures will I select, and what quotes will I highlight? What is it that a reader will read a hundred days down the line and say, “So that is Aekta”?

We design our lives like we design a magazine story. How do you plan to publish yours?


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