We all edit, whether it's our own emails or as part of our professional duties. What matters most isn't a mastery of present participle, but being in control of one's viewpoints, biases and organisation, as one hardcore editor tells the tale.
Image via Dyanna.
R. Preston McAfee handled 275 manuscripts in his first year at the American Economic Review journal. To gun through that much raw text, and apply his skills to a wide variety of topics and papers, he had to consider what an editor really does. Part of that was being, simply, opinionated:
At the time, I considered "opinionated" to mean ‘holding opinions without regard to the facts,' and indeed dictionary definitions suggest ‘stubborn adherence to preconceived notions.' But there is another side to being opinionated, which means having a view. It is a management truism that having a vision based on false hypotheses is better than a lack of vision, and like all truisms it is probably false some of the time, but the same feature holds true in editing: the editor's main job is to decide what is published, and what is not. Having some basis for deciding definitely dominates the absence of a basis. Even if I don't like to think of myself as "obstinate, stubborn or bigoted," it is valuable to have an opinion about everything.
McAfee's thoughts on editing are a great read and eye-opening, even if one thinks they've been writing and editing so long that there's nothing they haven't possibly learned (ahem).