Sunday, January 15, 2006

On Editing

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.

Blog 8 Replies to “On Editing”
Jonathon Owen


8 thoughts on “On Editing

    Author’s gravatar

    You get my applause for using a well-placed Firefly quote by my favorite Firefly character.

    Author’s gravatar

    You’ll find a job, and it’ll be a good one. Because you’re one of the best editors I know (the other two being Brinestone and Cice). It may take a while, but you’ll get one.

    And yeah. Editing and rewriting are so much easier than creating. Though I sort of think technical writing might be fun. (Where fun means very organized and systematic.)

    Author’s gravatar

    And no, you don’t have too much confidence in your skills. We didn’t call you the “Index to the Chicago” for nothing.

    Author’s gravatar

    I have realized, from doing technical writing myself for four months, that a lot of the job description involves a) coercing people into talking to you and telling you what they know, b) scrounging around for related documents that have already been written and that might make your job easier, c) composing parallel lists, and d) saying things with as few words as possible (this last bit is a real weakness of mine).

    I kind of like what little technical writing I’ve done, but I think I would like it a lot more if I weren’t writing about banking. Nothing bores me more than money, and I mean that.

    Author’s gravatar

    If yoo can fix the, ten, or so problums with this poste, yoo will be a exquisite editor-tpye persun. Hafe fun.

    Author’s gravatar

    Congratulations. I think you made my eyes hemorrhage.

    Author’s gravatar

    Pfft. He made my head asplode.

    Author’s gravatar

    But did he make pee come out of your eyes?

Comments are closed.