The Editing Process: Examples
of the Transition from Spoken
Word to Written Text
by Sally McBeth
Many of the things that were discussed in tape-recorded interviews (in Wahpeton, North Dakota, and in Naytahwaush, Minnesota) did not make the final cut for this book. Essie and I would lapse into discussions (and we intentionally left the tape recorder running) about a variety of topics, many of which we chose not to include in this final manuscript. Some of these are detailed in the introduction to this volume; others were simply discussions between friends.
We have had a lot of time over the past ten years to work on refining what would be included in the final draft. By 1989-90 we had produced an incomplete version of the manuscript, which I labeled, "Version I—Incomplete." A second draft was completed in 1991; it was called "Version II—Semi— Complete." "Version III—Complete" was finished in 1992, but of course it wasn't complete. It was followed by partial rewrites in 1993, 1995, and 1997. Remember, too, that every line of every sentence of every page was coedited by Essie and me. All sections were read back to her at least twice.
Some of the editing was easy and straightforward. An example from chapter 2 illustrates this process:
Well, I was born in 1909, on November 9, and the earliest thing I can remember is being set on top of a ... it seemed to me to be a very tall dapple gray horse, and I don't know whether this is something that I made up or whether this is truth personified. I know that sitting on the horse is truth, but it seems to me I still had a diaper, and I never checked that out with my mother to see whether that was true, you know, that I was that young. I suppose I probably was only about a year or two old, or something like that. And that would have been somewhere in Idaho since my mother and father had had to run away to get married.
This portion of the transcribed tape became: