Student written textbooks published within my academic span are rare. Although the writing in older textbooks is good, exceptional even, I’ve always felt a slight disconnect with the authors.
When I saw the 2018 publication date for the WRI365 – Editing: Principles and Practice required textbook, I was thrilled. Finally, a book written in a time where walking past the authors in the corridors or unknowingly sitting beside them in a class is a possibility.
Rewriting Therapy: A Handful of Lessons on Editing True Stories is a textbook written by three former WRI365 students: Andrew Fenech, Erica Rzepecki, and Jessica Cabral. Each section focuses on an author, their story, and their editing process.
The book starts with the manuscript instructions, a vivid story by Professor Laurel Waterman recounting the manuscript launch party, and an invitation to join the authors in their therapeutic journey. The main portion of the book splits into three sections: In Motion, In Thought, and In Sight.
In Andrew Fenech’s story, “The Same Wine,” he is at a party in a reception hall with family: self-conscious and uncomfortable with his own identity, or rather how his relatives will perceive him if he doesn’t act a certain way. Somehow, he gets thrusted with the responsibility of babysitting his cousin who exhibits toxic masculinity traits. He explores topics of masculinity and responsibility in an honest and raw way that strips down the party into something more telling. The experience is so visceral because Fenech expresses his discomfort in a tangible way through subtle gestures and relatable internal dialogue.
Erica Rzepecki wrote about friendship, a friendship that went in a different direction after a residence party in her story “Something like Merlot.” She captures her feelings and the complexity of her friendship with Jack as it shifted into something subtle but palpable. The story lulls you, pulls you up to an apex, and then sends you tumbling down in a treacherous descent. At least it did for me. Rzepecki immerses the reader in the memory until you feel like you can smell Merlot on Jack’s breath too. In her editing process, Rzepecki details how she cut down her story to the main points that contributed to the narrative and introduced physical sensations to strengthen her piece.
In “Love Language,” a story by The Medium’s Features Editor Jessica Cabral, divulges into a story about her grandmother’s death. She explores her grief, but also her regret at never expressing her love to her grandmother before her passing. However, through flashbacks and memories, Cabral gains closure through the recognition that love has its own language that extends beyond their linguistic barriers.
After each story, the authors share some questions they had to ask themselves during their revisions and offered some tips on editing. Rewriting Therapy is a textbook example of how to edit your pieces, but also the power of writing.
Writing became their closure and editing their therapy.
You can find Rewriting Therapy: A Handful of Lessons on Editing True Stories on Amazon.