My friends and family often apologize for typos they make in emails or even texts to me. I always laugh it off or text back that it’s no biggie, or that I didn’t even notice the mistake.
They know me only too well, however. Family members have witnessed my nitpicking almost since I learned to write. My oldest friends, who knew me in middle school and high school, remember I was a straight-A student who loved to read and write. In college, my skills and my hopes for the future focused first on journalism and then, more specifically, on public relations. I knew I would be a writer.
I do love to write. I have four unfinished novels on my computer. I’ve had two young-adult graphic novels published, and I also write poetry and short stories. But my dirty little secret is that I really love to proofread and copyedit.
Yes, today I am making a confession. My name is Robin, and I am a copyeditor. (“Hi, Robin!”)
What brought me to this precipice? We are currently doing some rearranging at work. Some people’s cubicles are being moved, which means they are packing some of their stuff and doing a little cleaning up and clearing out. Even though I don’t have to move this time, I caught the cleaning bug and organized some of my own stuff.
While doing this I unearthed a magnet I’d forgotten I had. It says, “I am silently correcting your grammar,” which made me laugh–because yes, I am. Right now. (Just go with it.) It also made me laugh a little because it reminded me I also have a T-shirt that says the same thing. I only wear it to sleep in because it got some kind of indelible stain on it, so, of course, I had to buy a second one. A couple of years later I had lost quite a bit of weight, so obviously it was completely necessary for me to buy a third one.
That’s right. I have three T-shirts (and a magnet) threatening you with grammar prosecution when you haven’t even written something yet.
I also have, I kid you not, a purse made out of the Chicago Manual of Style. The actual book. I stumbled across it on Etsy; the shop sold mostly book-purses and book-wallets, and the CMoS one was on display as a sample, although it was not for sale. But I inquired, learned the shop owner could make another one, and spent an inordinate amount of money buying a CMoS purse. And almost no one–even many writers and PR peeps–don’t know what it is.
Last, but not least, I also own a T-shirt (on which I spent actual hard-earned cash) sold on the CMoS website when they re-branded the book and site. The T-shirt was just too funny and cute for me to miss out on. It has the CMoS logo with the words purposefully misspelled/disordered then corrected with proper proofreading marks. Hahaha! Get it!?!
Oh, laws. Am I crazy? I’m crazy! But editing is just so. much. fun. It’s a really great feeling to help another writer to improve his or her work. In college, I worked on the yearbook staff, and my junior year I was THE copyeditor–reading every word of a 700-page book, including headlines, cutlines and lists and lists of students’ names. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. Too bad I didn’t have my magnet back then!
I once got to copyedit a wonderful YA novel called Echohawk that won a couple of awards. I copyedited and revised a series of YA self-help books about coping with things like divorce, peer pressure, etc. That was more fun than you might have expected. I copyedited the personal and company memoir of a local businessman whose family coffee company has now spanned four generations and is still family-owned. And, I had the amazing honor to co-edit my grandfather’s World War II memoir.
For my next trick, as I’ve just learned, I will be editing the 2020 Dwarf Stars Anthology for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. I did this back in 2016 and really enjoyed it. I’ll spend the next four months searching for the best speculative poems with 10 lines or fewer so I can compile an anthology of nominees for the SFPA’s Dwarf Stars Award. I can’t think of anything more fun than immersing myself in great poetry–but–wait a second–