No one knows who will be editing speeches come March 1st, but I know for certain it won’t be me. These next weeks I am working on editing my last four speeches and then it is goodbye. I have loved doing it, no doubt about it, but I do admit that the past 10 months since I returned from my maternity leave the job of editing speeches has been very different from what it was before I had the girl.
We have talked more about them, which I actually think is good, because they are important and I did think focusing slightly more on them would make sense, but it also means that more people have had an opinion. Too many cooks spoil the broth. This past year I have had to live with sports metaphors and sentences so difficult as spoken words you wouldn’t believe it. I have been asked to make the speeches easier accessible language wise and to give them “one voice” rather than 15 depending on who wrote that specific paragraph, and I have done my best despite having to fight with 6 layers of approval after final editing (and believe me they all have different opinions on how long a long sentence is – just to give an example). I have never written the speeches, I have never been alone, I have only edited to the best of my ability (which theoretically should be okay after five years at university focusing on oral communication and speeches in particular), and yet it feels as if I, and I alone, are to blame for the speeches not being what management wanted. Despite still having a job, I feel fired from a job I liked despite all the struggles, a job I actually believe I was good at.
If I have learned anything it is that perhaps I ought to have fought more. The system is very bureaucratic. If you are at the bottom, you can disagree with your peers, but not with those above you. Last summer when the management wanted changes and sent this formulation around: “A speech should always contain news. At least one news story, maximum three”, I did not say “hey, I think you are overlooking the difference between news story and message”, I just silently worked “message” into the papers rather than “news story”. I have tried to have an opinion, but if you convince one layer you are right, you have 5 to go. At some point you stop wanting to make the most of your knowledge and education and try to make the most of the situation you are in – even if it means you edit against your better knowledge.
I don’t mean to complain. In December before we knew of any changes, I talked to a friend about being ready for other things. “I think I have had this job long enough,” I told her, not forgetting that the current economy doesn’t exactly make getting a new job easy, but still: I had realised that perhaps it was time to move on even if it meant leaving the speech editing behind.
I liked it, I think I was good at it, but apparently I wasn’t meant to continue doing it. I just kind of wish I had been the one to pull the plug and not the other way around.
I left work early today. The sun was shining, I saw no reason to stay any longer. On my way home I picked up Slouching Towards Bethlehem and shopped for dinner. I picked up the girl. I stood in my kitchen at 4:30pm praising the family life the past 2½ years have given me. Everything is going to be alright.
(Maybe not the speeches, but very soon that’s somebody else’s problem.)