Saturday, July 6, 2013

I'm Always Learning...Sometimes, On Purpose

I am not always the first person in line when someone wants to try a new experience. Yes, I have to admit it, even if to no one else but myself.  I'd love to think I'm up for any adventure at the drop of a hat, but the embarrassing reality is this: sometimes, it is simply too much bother. I think it's an age thing: when I had no responsibilities, lots of time on my hands, and a "who cares?" attitude about silly things like consequences, I was up for anything. Now that I'm older (not old, but just oldER), I tend to think of adventures and experiences in terms of money available & time spent—sort of a "what am I going to get out of this?" return-on-investment thing.

Perhaps I'm lazy. Not consistently, mind you, but I wax and wane when it comes to new things. If an activity catches my interest, I will grab that baby and run with it. Often, I even stick with it. On the contrary, activities that are necessary are not nearly as much fun, and I have to be in the right mood to do them efficiently.

Then there are those wonderful moments when the two worlds mesh perfectly, like when I decided I really liked riding my bike again. The interesting activity met up with the necessity of getting healthier, and together, they created a really cool new thing.

My newest adventure, editing, is turning out to be another of those wonderful moments. A love of books and a lifetime of reading has now collided with a desire to "fix" things that need corrected in order to have something (a book, in this case) shown in its best light. Bonus points are awarded here for the adventure having the potential to earn, rather than cost, money. Even more bonus points if my work helps someone else to earn money because I've done a good job.

As I work on the novel I'm currently editing, I'm constantly looking up rules, references, definitions and more, in order to do my job in the best way possible. If my name is going on a book for an editing credit, I want to be proud of the work. Proud for myself and my own back-patting, of course (I'd be lying if I said I don't get a kick out of seeing my name on a title page), but also for the author's sake.

Think about it: this person trusts me to take his or her efforts—characters & story lines that have sprung from someone's imagination and therefore are very personally intertwined with the author—and CHANGE them, sometimes with a gentle tweak and sometimes with a ruthless red slash. That's a better trust exercise than those dumb ones where you have to fall backward into someone's arms. Give me Lucy Van Pelt, pulling that football away at the last second, any day of the week. But don't take something on which I've worked for hours and completely rework it. It's mine. Mine. MINE.

And yet, authors do this every day, giving a piece of themselves away to someone who will either treat it lovingly or carelessly. They trust their editors to take a manuscript and give it polish and shine. So, yes, I am willing to keep learning every time I sit at my keyboard, because ultimately, the better I am at my job, the better their work will be shown. I have no illusions about my level of knowledge, in life, editing, or anything else, but as long as information is available, I'm going to keep seeking it out and—with help from my remaining grey cells—retaining it.

1 comment:

  1. You make me want to write a book just so I can have you edit it.


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