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Commentary: Writers are only as good as their editors

July 12, 2012|By James Pribram

It is said that writers are only as good as their editors and I couldn't agree more.

My first editor was Geoff Griffin at the News Post and my column debuted on the front page in October of 1995 without any real formal writing experience, except for some writing courses at Irvine Valley College.

I remember listening to my teacher that day say, "You want to be a good writer? Than you have to write from the heart and let your editor make magic out of your words. But the important thing is getting down the words. Writers write and editors edit."

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From the very moment that I heard those words I thought to myself, "Sweet, I can do that," and Cindy Frazier was the best at just letting me write.

I would call in once a week and have a little chat about my experiences from the prior week. I would ask her which topic she thought I should write about and she would always say "just write about your life and whichever one means the most to you."

Cindy meant the most to me in so many ways. She always instilled confidence in me; first as an editor but then as a close friend. She was kind enough to help edit my work outside of the paper. When she did make changes to my work, she was patient enough to talk through those changes with me and more importantly why they were made.

I learned more about writing from her than anyone before her. We really had a great rapport together. She had this dry sense of humor and whenever I could I would drop her a note or call from wherever I was. She seemed genuinely happy for me that I was surfing and traveling around the world.

Our talks became less about writing and more and more about life. She loved hearing my stories from the road and gave me free reign on what to write after a while and my deadline went from Monday at noon all the way down to noon on a Thursday (which is crazy since the paper comes out Friday morning).

Cindy was like a second mother to all of us who wrote for the paper. She taught us as much about writing as she did about life. She was a great person, who was strong, smart, and brave with a heart of gold.

Thank you for all that you taught us.

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