I am weary of red pens because I know exactly what they mean.
A red pen, in the editor’s world, symbolizes cross outs, suggestions, side margin scripture and ultimately: change. It is a brave act, to compose a piece that you might like to call your “best work” and allow it to meet the wrath of a red pen, ready to annihilate and abuse with punctuation and grammar. But that is totally fine with me, place a comma where it needs to be. Go ahead and add the missing semi colon. But don’t touch my story line. DO NOT TOUCH MY STORY LINE.
Perhaps someone needs a little lesson in growing up: People are going to come into our lives and they are going to touch our story lines. We will come face to face with many “red pens” throughout our lives but it is up to us to allow ourselves to be changed by them.
I am one to get googly-eyed over fate. I will watch Serendipity a good 300 times and never get tired of the idea of someone meeting me in a little restaurant in New York City. I am fan of little coffee shops that hold the potential of love at first sight and airport terminals where two lovers could possibly reunite. But even with an embarrassing love for chick flicks, I still believe that we make a choice at the end of the day.
We are always choosing. Choosing to love, leave, try and let go. We choose who we will hand over the manuscript of our heart to. Who We Will Trust To Be Careful With Their Red Cursive. Who we believe is worthy to allow our hearts to be written on and potentially changed completely by the writing of another’s words.
There are those who come around and they mark up our hearts by just being there, but even if we say we have no control over what they do to us, we do. We can take the pen away, sometimes thankfully and other times with grief, with sorrow that we have to force them to place down their final point of punctuation and walk away without our heart.
It is crazy to me but I think it happens every day. I think about all the people I see in passing one day and I sometimes wonder about what parts of their hearts have gone missing or belong to someone else, or have veiled by the markings of another. It is crazy to me to think we could potentially walk around like this forever.
But that is the point of a red pen: to make changes. When another picks up the pen and scatters their comments all over us, we have to be the ones to step forward for a second draft. Our lives may be edited over and over again, every single day, and I will honest in saying that I like the idea of never being the same from one interaction to the next.
But I will always, always, always question whether or not if I meet someone in this life will I ever have to question if I should have let them hold the pen longer.
Because here is the trickiest and the scariest thing to admit: that we could meet someone and be o.k. with them touching our story line, for better or worse. We could grant them that permission to add new ideas and change the beginnings and the transitions. We could grant them permission to change the our most precious possession: their ending. They might change that period into a comma. They might cross out take that lower case letter and turn it upper. They might, they might, they might.
But like I said, I am weary of red pens because I know exactly what they mean.