Helpfully White

10+ reasons why we need editors

Even the best of us need an editor. Especially when it comes to warzone pity porn.

Courtesy of Andre Vltchek’s piece, “Afghanistan: As Only Love Could Hurt,” here’s your Writer 101 on why you need someone to read your shit. This rambling bit of pity porn is middle school journalism at its finest. And we get a peek behind the curtain at how grim things really are in the graveyard of better writing.

For those of you that read it, I’m aware – there’s a lot more than 11.

Remember: friends don’t let friends write without an editor.

This one’s my favorite.

1. “It feels much chillier than it really is.”

True, if this is Chicago.

2. “Almost everyone I spoke to in Afghanistan agrees that things are rapidly moving from bad to rock bottom.”

Only if this is an AA meeting. Or an interview with The Rock.

3. “What has been done to this ancient and distinct civilization, once standing proudly at the crossroad of major trade routes, influencing culturally a great chunk of Asia, connecting East and West, North and South?”

Let’s leave the chunks for character names in beloved 80s movies, or to the act of hurling gourds great distances, and keep it out of geopolitics.

4. “My ageing “horse” became a beat-up Corolla, my driver and translator a brave, decent family man in possession of a wonderful sense of humor.”

Listen, Lone Ranger, let’s leave the Tontoization to the professionals, and continue on your way through Kabul’s byways.

5. “One day you and your driver, who is by then your dear friend, are driving slowly over the bridge.”

Your “dear friend” you’ve known less than a week is just happy he’s got a job, even if it means driving your melodramatic ass around the Emerald City.

6. “Children are begging, and you soon notice that they are operating in a compact pack, almost resembling some small military unit.”

Either write, “The little brown ones terrify me,” or cut this entirely, because comparing street kids to the army is just silly.

7. “You actually don’t see any war near the Softa Bridge; you only see Death, her horrid gangrenous face, her scythe cutting all that is still standing around her, cutting and cutting, working in extremely slow motion.”

Let’s leave your complicated relationship with your mom out of this and not ascribe gender to your anthropomorphism.

8. “Lack of hope is killing you, it horrifies you; everything else can always be dealt with.”

Bummer about your lack of hope, but can we talk about your lack of self-awareness?

9. “Enormous surveillance drone-zeppelins are levitating above the city.”

Since it’s not 1937, and you’re not covering the Hindenburg disaster or doing a review of an Indiana Jones movie, seems implausible.

10. “I’m aware of the fact that in Afghanistan, the Empire often kills anything that moves, at the slightest suspicion or without any suspicion at all, as for them human lives of the local people count for almost nothing.”

Yeah, I remember the first time I got strafed by TIE fighters on Tatooine, too.

Bonus Helpfully White Moment

Her face is striking. She stares directly into my camera, and when I lower the lens, I feel her eyes begin to pierce mine. Without one single word uttered, I sense clearly what she is trying to convey:

“What have you done to me?”

I try to hold her glance for at least a few seconds, but then I lower my eyes. Now I‘m in panic. I want to embrace her, hold her, take her away from here, somewhere, somehow; to adopt her, airlift her from here, give her a home, but I know that there is no way I would be allowed to do it.

Unless you’re confessing to something here, let’s cut this section entirely, and leave the Noble Order of White Helpfulness bits out, yes?