As fellow As I See It columnist Jack Garvey commented in an ensuing email discussion, “Oh, that hurts! That is a galvanizing line that would have turned the ‘multi-tasking’ line into a more powerful (and resonant) one-two punch.”
This was most likely a quick decision made at deadline to fit the column into the allotted space, but how would the reader know that? A reader assumes that the writer presented the column as published. Not so, as in this case.
Does this really matter? Probably not to the reader. Definitely so to the writer. Writing is our creation, our expression of selves, hence the As I See It name of the column. To make changes is to make the work to some extent not ours. Not that we’re all geniuses, but, as an extreme example, would Leonardo da Vinci object if an art editor touched up his Mona Lisa? Or cropped it to fit allotted space on the wall? True, these are just little guest columns in a local newspaper, but the motivation of the artist/writer remains the same — self-expression.
Similarly, the piece was also pruned in the middle. The sentence, “I can’t count the number of times in recent years that an oncoming distracted driver, either looking down at a text or smiling and yakking on the cell phone, has had to jerk to attention and veer back into the travel lane to avoid me,” did indeed present the scenario. But again, how do I feel about that?
“That’s why I always keep an eye on each oncoming driver, ready to jump over the guardrail if necessary. So far that hasn’t been necessary, but it’s a possibility.”
That sentence was cut, taking the teeth out of the observation. That’s how alert I have to be on this stage of my walk on the highway, detracting from the meditation function of my fitness program to guarantee my survival against oncoming missiles.