I’m frequently asked which part of the writing journey I like best. That’s easy. While I do NOT enjoy hammering out that first draft and catch myself embracing almost any excuse to avoid it, I adore the editing part. When my editor returns a marked-up manuscript, I can hardly wait to dive in and see what improvements she suggests. I accept more than ninety percent of the changes my editor makes because I know my work will improve, and I learn so much.
Occasionally, though, an editor gets it wrong because they don’t understand the situation. Such was the case on my most recent manuscript (The Last Piece, releasing in November), where a character loves finding deals at thrift shops. She describes her thrift shop experience as “win-win-win,” explaining why. My editor assumed I’d used one too many “wins” and crossed one out.
I rejected her suggestion and stood my ground. Three wins. And truthfully, I probably could have thrown in a few more. So let me count the
Our local MCC Thrift Store and MCC Furniture Plus are prime examples. In case you’re unfamiliar with the process, the store receives donations of used items which it organizes and sells with the help of a few paid staff and an army of volunteers. Who exactly wins here? Let’s count them:
1. First, the donor wins because MCC provides a way to dispense with unwanted items, hassle-free. No need to wait until you collect enough to organize a yard sale, price it, advertise it, set it all up, reschedule for weather, haggle with customers, watch the cash box, or pack the unsold stuff at the end of a tiring day. Simply drop your items off at the store’s back door during the hours specified—throughout the year—and you’re done.
2. Shoppers win because they find what they need at a fraction of the price of new. When our kids were young, I’d give them each twenty bucks and let them thrift-shop for their own clothes. They learned to do math, make choices, and live with the consequences of those choices without costing me a fortune. Most of my clothes still come from MCC and I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t live more happily in designer clothes. I scored half my small appliances there, too, along with our kitchen table and the collection of candles I like to burn while working at my desk. And don’t get me started on my weakness: dishes!
3. The planet wins. Every year, perfectly usable clothing is thrown out and new clothing is made. This wasteful cycle uses and disposes of more resources than necessary and harms the earth. MCC invites customers to “take the pledge” to check out a thrift shop before looking at any new clothing.
4. Volunteers win. Some of our local volunteers have served for decades. They enjoy what they do, they do it with excellence, and they consider the team family.
5. Recipients of the profits win. MCC supports both local and global relief, development, and peace projects of the Mennonite Central Committee. MCC delivers disaster relief. It helps girls stay in school. It helps prevent the spread of diseases like Covid-19 in vulnerable communities. By donating that shirt you never wear, or by buying one you will, you respond to basic human needs and work for peace and justice in 60 countries as well as in your home town. Can any regular retail store say the same?
Well, there. My editor was wrong, but so was I. It’s not that I used too many “wins.” It’s that I didn’t use enough. Every thrift shop purchase truly is a gift to the world.
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. (Proverbs 19:17)