I’ve been thinking a lot about editing recently. I’ve said more than once lately that it’s really a large part of who I am. I really enjoy editing and tend to think I’m really good at it. Sometimes I worry that I have too much confidence in my skills, but if I do, the blame lies with those who gave me such confidence: my coworkers, supervisors, and professors. If a professor who’s been editing and teaching editing for longer than I’ve been alive tells me I’m pretty hot stuff, who am I to argue?
The problem is that being very good at something doesn’t guarantee that anyone will hire you, just like being a really great guy doesn’t guarantee that anyone will marry you. Of course, I did eventually get married, and I’m sure someone will eventually hire me, but in the meantime the whole ordeal is pretty darn frustrating. I look at my friends with their jobs and their freelance gigs and feel pangs of jealousy and bitterness. (To my gainfully employed and freelancing friends, rest assured that it’s nothing personal and that I love you all very much.)
Sometimes, though, it all gets a little overwhelming and I just want to eat a pint or two of ice cream and then spend the rest of the day playing violent video games. As I noted before, the parallels with my dating life while I was single hit just a little too close to home. I had plenty of friends that were dating and getting married, but the dating world seemed to be passing me by. Turns out I was merely a terrible dater but make a rather good married person (or so my wife leads me to believe). Similarly, I’m terrible at finding editing jobs, but I make a rather good editor.
But just like in my single life, I often find myself wondering if I’ve misjudged myself. I wonder if I’ve set my standards a little too high or if my idea of what I want isn’t actually what’s best for me. There are so many technical writing jobs out there that it’s making me think I chose the wrong field. And not only are there more openings, but they usually pay better. What’s not to like about that? Well, the whole technical part of it, that’s what. Technical manuals bore me to tears. And the writing part isn’t much better. I’m a decent writer, but experience has taught me that I’m a better editor.
You see, I’ve often fancied myself a writer. Since elementary school I’ve had dreams of being an author. Well, the problem is that authors actually write stuff, whereas I seemed to pour most of my authorial efforts into coming up with ways to rewrite things I’d already read. And that is why I am an editor. It’s something that’s as thoroughly a part of me as my blue-green tinged purpleness. To paraphrase Kaylee from Firefly: Words have got workings, and they just talk to me. I’m not the engineer who builds spaceships—I’m the mechanic that keeps ’em flying.