The Chainsaw Edit

I recently asked Mr. Jackson for help with my This I Believe essay.  Just to let you know, I’m one of the few people who enjoys people editing my work.  I can never manage to cut enough of my work out, I’m too caring about.  Thankfully, there’s Mr. Jackson.  Where I go through it with a scalpel, trying to keep too much of my work, Mr. Jackson comes through and chops it all up with a chainsaw.  I like to call it the chainsaw edit. By the time he’s done, my paper is highlighted all over, there is now pen in the margins, and my once beautiful essay has been ripped to shreds.  But when I piece it back together, it comes back stronger.

One of the main things Mr. Jackson does for me is he really cuts to the heart of my papers.  Often I dance around the subject, making points that don’t have a direct relation to my thesis.  Mr. Jackson cuts out all of this, and finds what I’m really talking about.  A lot of times, it’s not what I originally set out to prove.  He chops up my essay, and rearranges the various elements in order to make what I say stronger.  For example, in my first draft, I started with the paragraph about being in a dark place, the place where you feel like you want to quit.  Mr. Jackson however, suggested that I should possibly follow the course of the race, starting from the moment the gun goes off, and ending when I burst across the finish line.

One of the things I noticed about putting my events in a logical order was that it made it easier for my readers to follow the events that were happening in my essay.  Also, he picks out the truly important ideas.  As reading it from a new point of view, he’s easily able to pick out which are the most powerful parts of my writing.  Phrases like “the sound of the starters gun” or ” yet underlying that, like the dark foreshadowing in a movie” or even “the pain I must endure in order to run faster.”  He points out parts, trim this bit, ex

pand this part, take out this section, and most of all, create more emphasis and take us inside this paragraph, because that’s what you’re truly talking about.  I think that one of the more important things Mr. Jackson has done for me is to enable me to get to the bottom of what I really want to say.  I know WHAT I’m trying to say, I just can’t transfer it easily from thought to paper.  I know what the destination should look like, but I have no road map of getting there.  Mr. Jackson helps give my writing the direction it needs to get to the place I want it to go.

One other thing that I enjoy about having Mr. Jackson edit my work is that he cuts out the really unnecessary words.  Or better yet, changes them around to create a more powerful impact.  They are small, subtle changes, but it really improves my writing.  For example, in one sentence, I originally had it as “Alone in the trees that once seemed to be filled with sunshine, are now dark.”  Eventually, with a little bit of guidance, it became changed to

I run, alone in the trees. Trees that once seemed to glow with sunshine are now dark.

Just little things, like changing the you’s to I’s, makes my writing more personal and powerful.

The main reason I love having Mr. Jackson edit my papers is simply because he’s so good.  I find it hard to read my own writing, my brother isn’t old enough, and my mom is simply too nice.  Mr. Jackson is good because he can look at it from another point of view, and cuts through to the heart of what I’m saying.  He puts my half-formed thoughts and ideas into something tangible, and the end result clearly shows just how much a good English teacher can do for you.