Much value in editing - for writers and readers

I enjoyed Dr Lee Wei Ling's columns in The Straits Times on many counts ("Editing is not the same as censorship" by Mr Janadas Devan; yesterday).

They were written with honest introspection, and espoused her unique and somewhat controversial philosophy.

One never doubted her sincerity, disagreeable and untenable though some points may be.

All writers who have anything worthwhile to edify the readership of The Straits Times are subject to discreet editing.

After all, it is a major newspaper in Singapore and cannot be a hotchpotch of unpolished meanderings, unsubstantiated fiction masquerading as fact, wilful slander or just a potpourri of personal grievances.

We all understand that, and Forum contributors evolve their styles so that their views can get articulated nationally.

We learn to tone down unnecessarily and unfairly strong language in our little essays, and still get to recognise our own personal flourishes in the final printed word.

All authors hate having parts of their writing expunged or choice of words and turns of phrase edited, sometimes mercilessly.

Yet, after time has passed, I have found that most of my edited letters, distinct for their brevity, are more succinct than the original ones I had written, with the editors perhaps saving me from myself and from lawsuits arising from inadvertent and careless slips.

I shall miss Dr Lee's musings. Not wishing for further imposition by those who have professional journalistic skills to edit her writing, she can perhaps post without inhibition on social media, a noisy and chaotic platform though it may be.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

This article was first published on April 6, 2016.
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