Emily Smith Prompt: Do you want to become an editor? Why or why not? Explain your answer in terms of specific aspects of editing that you do or do not enjoy and that do or do not match your skills and personality. Illustrate your points with personal examples and experiences.
I chose editing on a whim. I love to read and I googled career ideas of people who liked to read. Editing sounded like the perfect job—I would kick back in my office in New York or Boston and read manuscripts all day. I’d tell the authors whether or not their writing was good enough to make the best-seller list in the New York Times. Now that I’m in my third year of college, I realize that editing is not all that I expected it to be. I can’t reject a manuscript on the basis of my personal opinion, and I actually need to know about usage issues that I never knew existed (including when to use an em dashes, an en dashes, and a hyphens—formerly foreign terms for to me). But I can answer with a resounding yes that I do still want to become an editor. Now that I’ve learned what I need to do to become a good editor, I am more determined than ever to put those my new skills into practice. Although there are some aspects of editing that do not match my personality or my liking, I welcome the challenge of learning to thrive in the publishing world, and the fact that this challenge exists makes me love editing so much more. As a lover of all well-written books (especially those by Dickens), I have a problem when I read publications that are poorly writtennot written well. I think that this problem will carry into my editing because, to be honest, I threw Twilight down with disgust after I finished reading it the first book. Yet I don’t often know how to express why I do or do n’ot like a particular book. I merely toss it aside and when someone asks me whether or not they should read it, I tell them no, because it’s “poorly written” (or something along those lines). My vague answers, I’m sure, are no help to the victim of my suggestions, because they may not have the same taste I do or my standards for writing. Yet Gross has expressed that when reading manuscripts “Iit is not enough
to ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ a manuscript, or an idea or a blueprint for a book. You must know and be able to tell convincingly and persuasively why you feel as you do about a submission” (Gross 24). I need to practice articulating my thoughts and feelings about writing. Yet a strength that I do have when it comes to reading other’s writing is that I utterly withstand all any change of the author’s voice. I refuse to take away from what the author has said. I find it wrong—who am I to impose my style on another author? Einsohn’s pointed explanation that the “issue is not ‘If I were the writer, would I have written it in some other way?’” is my mantra (9). My experiences with reading another’s others’ writing is are twofold: although I cannot easily express what I like or dislike about their writing, I always do my best to make sure authors retain their style so that it’s nothere are no surprises when their work is published. When I started working with Stance for the Family student journal, I was guilty of heavily editing the each author’s work. But I since came to realize that was rude and unfair. Who was I to change the wording because I thought it sounded better? Leaving the author’s style in place has become an ingrained part of my editing process. The publishing world fascinates me, and I have an earnest desire to be part of it. For some editors the task of “thinking “like a publisher” may seem daunting—that’s the publishing world is the business world, and we have been immersing ourselves in a world of language and literature, not numbers and production schedules. Yet I love multitasking, and I love that editing is becoming so multifaceted. I’m interested in learning new skills in addition to my editing skills, and I wish to obtain the duality and double-mindedness of thinking like an editor and like a publisher. Yet the prospect of perhaps sacrificing a good manuscript for the sake of money quite frankly breaks my heart. I can picture myself as a pushier version of Martha, fuming if the bestwritten manuscript does not get the publicity it deserves. Yet in the end, I’d have to be satisfied
with the publisher’s decision; I don’t want to be jobless. The instability of the publishing market scares me, and I don’t want to float from company to company as they are dissolved and are bought out. I want to be hired and I want to work in the same place forever—I don’t like change. Yet despite my desires to weather the storms of the publishing world and my fears of being struck by lightning while attempting to sail its stormy sea, I still want to weather the storms of the publishing world. I’m driven, and when I know what I want, I go for it. This past summer I began looking at different publishing companies I was interested in working at. I typed up all of their information—I had a list of about forty. I then narrowed it down to twenty. I looked up information on réesumées and cover letters. I followed all of the publishing imprints and their editors on Twitter. I began writing cover letters over Christmas, and I was offered an internship with the Humanities Publication Center this spring I have an internship with the Humanities Publication Center. I am absolutely driven, and this aspect of my personality will help me weather any storm the publishing world throws at me. Yet publishing is changing into a technology-focused world, and I know should adapt.. But just because I have to adapt to electronic publishing does not mean I will like it. As I mentioned, I don’t like change. I like my books in print where I can smell them and leaf through their pages. But this doesn’t mean I haven’tNevertheless, I’ve been trying to adapt; I bought a Nook and I don’t hate it. Yet pPublishing is moving into the digital world with design and HTML, and these are skills editors should possess. I am terrible at computers, but I took an Internet publishing class because I wanted to understand. So, like I said, it isn’t that I’m not trying. Because I am. Yet I will never love the digital aspect of editing—; working with printed words will always be my preference.
Because of my preference for words, I love copyediting. I like searching out small mistakes that other eyes do not catch. I love it when I can find a misused word, a missing comma, or a grammatical error. For me, it’s like a treasure hunt—not that I revel in the mistakes of the authors, but that I like to know I am doing some good to polish their work. But sometimes I get so caught up in the minute details that I miss huge conceptual mistakes and loopholes. Who cares if the comma’s misplaced if the story makes no sense? By trial and error I have realized that there is a two-frame mindset needed when editing. One is taking the task sentence by sentence and doing a careful copyedit. Another is substantive editing and making sure the language and content work together to convey the message that the author wants to send. I enjoy both, although I do favor copyediting. Though I do have my struggles with certain aspects of editing and publishing, I want to be part of the publication process to create good books that people love to read. I want to have a part in creating the stories that little hands cherish and beg their parents to read over and over again. I want to make polish that novel that becomes your best friend. I believe I will find a satisfaction in that. And that is worth the challenge of the publishing world. Gaining knowledge, finding joy in creation, and having personal relationships with authors of fantastic books—; this is what editing is to me. Honestly, I “like the stuff”—and I’m not going to merely “watch it being made”—I’m excited to be part of the process (Gross 60).