He was a mathematician and practically before our handshake was over he let me know about his “tiny hint of Asperger’s.” He had a story to tell and like a horse in a corral, he was raring to go.
During our first three meetings, I repeated some form of “the first draft will be utter crap” so many times that I worried that he thought I was somehow focusing on his Asperger’s.
We got to work. And like clockwork—just like dozens of infographics on Pinterest promise—at about the twenty percent mark, he became discouraged. The light in his eyes dimmed.
His mood plummeted and by the sixty percent mark, he was in despair. The kind where you run your fingers through your hair and then cradle your forehead in the palm of your hand.
“This isn’t working and furthermore, it will never work,” he said.
“The first draft will be utter crap,” I said. “But your crap is actually really, really GREAT crap!” It was true.
He looked at me through his fingers, a shock of hair flopping over one eye. The eye that was visible looked at me like I didn’t know crap about crap. Like he wondered if it was too late to fire me and bring on the next editor on the list.
By the ninety percent mark he was still filled with doubt, but at least the end of the project was in sight. I would be blessedly out of his life soon enough.
And you know what? The first draft wasn’t the crappiest crap ever put on paper, and the third draft was pretty good.
The light came back on in his eyes. He loved and doted on his new creation.
“This was the best experience ever,” he said to me at the end. “I’ve already got some thoughts about the next one.”
--Ann Kellett, Ph.D.
Ann Kellett Editing