Editing Life

You, dear friends, will never read my first draft. I don’t show them to anyone. Not my best friends, not my husband….not my AGENT (who I would trust with my offspring and my chocolate, which is saying a lot).

Nobody sees them but me. Because they are just-got-up-in-the-morning and still-has-mascara-caked-in-the-corner-of-her-eyes. Raw and ugly and icky.

I edit my manuscripts so they’re ready for their close-up.


I’m in the editing phase of this little novel I’m working on. Now, editing has a way of making me contemplative. Not only about the work, but about me.

Over the years I’ve started to edit, not only my work, but my life. 

I choose the status updates that will make me look witty or loved or perky-peppy. I never post about being too hard on my kids or the times I’ve messed up big time with a friend.

When I put up a new profile picture, I choose the one that makes me look prettiest. I try to find one that catches the light just right…and I always angle the camera so you don’t see my chins. And, I make sure my gray hairs aren’t glistening under the flash.

I started going gray at 18. That's when I started dying my hair. This is from Thursday. Thought I'd share an honest selfie for once.
I started going gray at 18. That’s when I began coloring my hair. This is from Thursday. Thought I’d share an honest selfie for once.

If I ever talk about rejections or reviews that weren’t great, I reframe it. I talk about how these things have made me grow (which they have). But I never tell you how bummed I was about a few of them. And I don’t tell you much about the bitterness that threatens to snake into my heart.

I am very careful, very deliberate about what I show. I am editing and revising myself near constantly. Why? Because there seems to be a standard. A level of perfection expected of me. Of you. Of all of us.

Yeah. Yeah. Facebook. Twitter. Blogs. Yes. We’re sharing more of our lives than ever before.

But, really, I’ve been doing this longer than Al Gore’s been running the internet.

I started in Kindergarten.


At least that’s when I remember doing it for the first time. I told my whole class that I was in ballet and piano lessons. I was not. And that was very clear when the teacher asked me to show them what I’d learned in those classes.

Uh. Oops.

But I wanted my classmates to think I was that kind of girl. The kind who got special lessons. The kind that could perform Swan Lake and be her own accompaniment.

Why did I do that? Why do I still?

Because sometimes I just don’t feel like I’m good enough. Sometimes I’m embarrassed that the laundry room is a complete disaster. That I have 3 or 4 or maybe even 5 baskets of clean laundry that still need folding. That my tupperware cupboard scares me a lot. Because I want you to think I have it together.

So…instead of this as my profile picture…

No make-up, messy hair, bad angle, giant coffee cup...
No make-up, messy hair, bad angle, giant coffee cup…#NoFilter for real.

I put up this…

Good light, make-up, better angle, hair behaving sort of...#BigTimeFilter
Good light, make-up, better angle, hair behaving sort of…#BigTimeFilter

Instead of this as my Facebook status…

I just massively overreacted to a motor oil spill on my living room floor. The way I acted, should be the one in time-out.

I put this up…

Um, motor oil spill on my living room floor. Only in the Finkbeiner House. Yikes!

And yes, that really did happen.

Just like my novels, I edit all the things that don’t seem to work from my life. Well, the part of my life that you see, at least. I cover it up. Sweep it under my carpet which, frankly, could use a good cleaning.

Why? Because I want you to think I’ve got it all together. I really want you to see the good parts of me. The cleaned up version with no errors or poorly constructed ideas/thoughts/actions. I don’t want you to see my laundry room (gracious, I don’t even want to see it). I don’t want you to know how much I weigh or what size my pants are. Or that I struggle with perfectionism and envy and low self-esteem.

I do all of this because when I look at Facebook, I see perfect profile pictures and witty or sweet status updates. I see the beauty and the good and the cleaned up version of life.

Because, really, we’re all working so very hard to edit life.

5 Comments on “Editing Life

  1. Dear Susie, I haven’t met in “real” (yet); but I love your honesty and your openness – I like the “real” and the “edited” pictures.And I’m with you, egads if I posted “real” fb status updates – I’d be afraid my friends would start ordering straightjackets by the dozens. lol. I think we all want people to see our “good” while hiding our “bad”. Truth is – those who love us, love us despite our ‘bad”. Thank GOD! And you know I am excited for your next book :). Thank you for sharing this!


    • I hear ya, Beth! Being real is terrifying. And it sometimes carries consequences. I am grateful for those I have who accept me the way I am…grumpy days and all.

      Thanks for being such a great cheer section!


  2. Truth, girl!
    How often do we scroll through our newsfeeds and feel discouraged or even a little empty? And how often do I retake a selfie because that pimple just won’t look like a beauty mark? A lot. These things happen a lot.
    Thank The Lord for those people who are okay with rough drafts–both in life and in writing. They are the ones who build us up, show us the Spirit, and make life and art things to be enjoyed, even in failure.
    Thank you for such an honest post! Sometimes I need a reminder that I’m human so it’s okay to act human-y as much as I do.


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