Writer, Editor, Proofreader, US Localizer, Indexer, and All-Around Wordsmith at Grey Editing.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I’ve been writing and editing since I was old enough to write, so copyediting was a natural fit for me. I worked in a variety of administrative jobs in my twenties and found that the only part of the work I really enjoyed involved editing. I started freelancing with some transcription and proofreading work, then began working with translators and realized that I too could freelance. I then took a job at a publishing company and learned as much as I could. I finally made the leap into full-time freelancing when it became clear that I was about to be laid off. I activated all of my networks and found a niche in political and academic publishing.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I have a seven-year-old daughter, so my work schedule is very much structured around her schedule. My husband packs her lunch, I get her dressed and drop her off at school, and then I might stop for a coffee before heading to my home office. I usually eat lunch at my desk while working. Other than running a few errands or throwing in a load of laundry, I try not to do things that will distract me from work. I pick her up in the afternoon, and the evening is devoted to homework, dinner, bedtime, etc. Once she’s in bed, I sometimes head back to the desk for another shift. I do try to make time for exercise, friends, and so on; we hold a weekly spaghetti dinner called Friday Night Meatballs that’s been a great way to make sure I get at least some social time every week.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE?
I’ve got a laptop and two wide-screen monitors, so my setup looks a little like NASA! I use a PC and work mostly in Word. I’m a big fan of tools that make Word better: PerfectIt for consistency checks and pre-editing cleanups, Editorium’s Editor’s Toolkit Plus set of macros, TextExpander to avoid typing the same things over and over.
WHAT DO YOU DO OR GO TO GET INSPIRED?
My clients are really inspiring! I’m a lifelong activist, and I work mostly with people who are fighting the good fight in one way or another. I feel strongly that the books, periodicals, and articles I’m editing are important, so that keeps me going. I also find a lot of joy in doing my own writing.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
This is a tough one! Since we’re talking about editing, I’m going to go with one of my heroes, John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun. His book of “maxims for writing and editing,” The Old Editor Says, is full of tough-truth gems like this one: “If there’s a word in the text that you don’t understand, and you let the text go, you haven’t edited it.”
WHAT IS THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
I’m deeply disturbed by the turn US politics has taken (not that things were ever all that great). I’m passionate about helping to produce texts with ideas and tools that strengthen social justice movements.
IS THERE A PRODUCT, SOLUTION OR TOOL THAT MAKES YOU THINK IT IS A GOOD DESIGN FOR YOUR DIGITAL PUBLISHING EFFORTS?
This might sound silly in a digital publishing environment, but I’m a huge fan of bullet journals. There’s something about paper and ink that speaks to every writer’s soul, and I have so many apps and devices and systems that it’s easy for things to get mixed up or fail to sync. So I have a Leuchturm 1917 notebook full of lists and charts and notes that I take with me everywhere, and it’s been an enormous help in managing all the moving parts of my work and home lives.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
Build your skills! Networking and contacts and ambition are great, but they won’t make any difference unless you can deliver a quality product. Study grammar and syntax and usage. Read up on trends in editing, lexicography, and linguistics. Know your subjects from your predicates. Look things up. Double-check your work. If you do excellent work and are pleasant and professional and prompt, your clients will be happy to market your services to everyone they know.
Image credit: Matt Godfrey