Six sentences that (might have) saved the world

It’s been one of those weeks — lots of fretting about my job and feeling overwhelmed. Which is rather silly because my job in no way represents life or death (except for me, and only in the livelihood sense of life and no way at all in the sense of death, except if I die I won’t have to do it anymore). But fretful I’ve been, including reaching out to a couple understanding friends to talk me down from the proverbial ledge. Ironically (and weirdly) soon after, I got a couple of unexpected, positive, reinforcing, all’s-right-with-the-world bits of feedback that made me feel that perhaps I really can do this job I’ve been doing for almost 15 years.

Then I went on to have a pretty good day. In true Libra style, the scales were returning to a balanced neutral.

But no, not quite yet. A project I worked on a couple months ago finally hit the presses today (and by presses I mean my client’s website), and I got to see the finished product. It was mostly what I remembered, except for the end.

“But it just…ends,” I thought. I had no idea how I had ended it, so I went back and looked. Of course, possibly the best six sentences ever written about tax risk had been lopped off the end.

Gone. Soul-crushingly gone.

Is that too dramatic? My soul is not easily crushed these days. I have grown more and more numb to editors’ liberties over the years. I understand that I get paid whether I’m happy with the finished product or not, and usually I’m OK with that. But sometimes…sometimes I feel sad for what could have been. What should have been.

I should have been asked — “Hey we’re running a little long, can you trim 6 or 7 lines from this (two-page) write-up.”

“Of course,” I’d have said (rolling my eyes), and then I’d have agonized just the right amount over what to cut. I’d have thoughtfully trimmed a little here and a little there. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have sent it back without the last six sentences — passive-aggressive much?

And so…just to restore a little balance to my Libra soul, and just in case they really did have the potential to save the world, here are those six sentences:

…: As the adage advises, the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

First, is the organization asking the right question of its customers? While U.S. FATCA compliance may have begun with asking, “Is this customer U.S. or non-U.S.?” that is not the most effective way to deal with the now global myriad of regulations. Better practice would be to ask, “What is the tax residency of this customer?” Second, does the organization have an onboarding process in place and functioning to collect the required documentation from individuals and entities?

These are the basics, and once these questions have been satisfactorily answered, organizations can move on to tackle requirements that take effect at later dates, such as reporting and certain types of withholding.

World without end, amen.

It’s unhealthy for people to never express any kind of
negativity or doubt. 
To have balance, you need to address
that side of your thoughts 
as well as the positive.
Otherwise, you tend toward crazy.

~ Shirley Manson

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3 Comments

  1. facie said,

    Friday, January 31, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    When I edit the fellows’ writing, sometimes I come up with what I think is a really good rewrite. Mostly they take what I suggest. But what I find surprising (and I guess a little annoying) is when I give them two suggestions, one of which I like a whole lot better, and they take the lesser. Whatcha gonna do?! :-)

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Friday, January 31, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      I’m glad you didn’t say, “…when I give them two suggestions, they don’t take either.” But yes, it is some kind of Murphy’s Law that they never pick the choice you like best.

  2. facie said,

    Monday, February 3, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Oh, but sometimes they don’t take either! Believe it or not, I am not necessarily supposed to edit; I just do it. And that is why/how I have learned to let it go (MOST of the time) when I make suggestions. I figure anything I can give them that makes it better is just a bonus.


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