, Newburyport, MA


December 30, 2013

As I see it, or not?

Editor’s note: The column Mr. Deane refers to in this piece was reduced slightly in length in order to fit in the print edition. Columns and letters submitted by our readers are sometimes trimmed in order to fit into the available space. Edits made on deadline, as was the case with Mr. Deane’s column, are not submitted to the author for approval, due to time constrictions.

The role of the writer, particularly in an OpEd piece, is to explore an issue and present a point of view, to make readers understand, identify, laugh, cry, get angry, take action … It’s deeply personal, though it must translate to the general readership.

The role of an editor is to select material, allot space, write headlines, protect against libel, check for grammar and spelling errors and, as necessary, improve writing. It’s not personal, though editors need to be sensitive to their writers.

Sure, editors may save writers from themselves at times, but at other times these roles may be in conflict.

Castle Freeman Jr., writes in “Spring Snow, The Seasons of New England,” from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, “Every author who is lucky enough to secure a publisher for his work finds himself in an enterprise that is necessarily a collaboration, something authors discover with degrees of horror, insult, resignation, relief, and gratitude.”

And so it was that I was startled and disappointed to discover that the last paragraph of my last As I See It column (Nov. 18) on texting and driving had been lopped off, presumably for space reasons.

As printed, it ended, “Multi-tasking doesn’t always mean more. It often means less — at the expense of others.”

That ending makes sense. It makes the point in a philosophical way. But the issue was more personal to me. The deleted ending, “To be blunt, my right to life is more important than your right to amusement. This makes me angry,” expressed how the philosophical impacted me personally. It was also a play on “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. The impact was gone with the deletion of that final sentence.

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