Writing, Red-Pencilling & Online Dating: Sex and the Single Editor

editing-188x250 copySince I completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, I’ve been on another mission: I want to take the stigma out of self publishing.

Even more ambitious than doing a Kickstarter, eh?

I realize I can’t single-handedly change negative perceptions of books that lie outside the traditional publishing realm. I can, however, try to make my book a worthy ambassador from the indie world, one that other self-published writers would be proud to have as a standard bearer.

Bottom line: Not everyone is going to like my book, but I’m going to do my best to ensure that it’s not going to be dismissed out of hand because of errors in consistency, spelling, and style, or because it is badly designed.

The first thing I’m planning to do to when I’m a bit further along in my writing is to find a great editor.

What Does an Editor Do, Anyway?

Everyone knows what a writer does — or thinks they do.

Getting Naked for Money is intended, in part, to debunk the idea that the life of a travel writer is glamorous. It’s also intended to debunk the idea that writing in general is fun and easy, that books are vessels that collect the mind’s fountain-like flow of great ideas.

I have the opposite problem with the sections of my book that deal with my life as an editor, in house and freelance. Trying to make the job seem interesting — or at least not Cupidunpleasant — isn’t going to be easy. Editing is often seen as a profession that only a sadist or uptight grammarian could love.

How do I know this?

I’m OK, You’re Not OK(Cupid)

Sometimes I forget that I really like being single, and go on internet dating binges. For the most part, my experiences have been positive, and I’ve made some good friends.

I’ve also discovered what men who leave their houses on a regular basis think about the work I do.

I describe myself as a writer in my profile. Some guys think that sounds cool, and contact me because they want to know what I write about. Others contact me in spite of the fact that I am a writer: “I’d better watch what I say around you.” They assume I’m a member of the language police.

And then there are the guys in unrelated professions who email me long, unsolicited samples of their own writing — you’d be surprised how often that’s happened — and get annoyed when I ignore the samples and just respond to the other things in their notes. If I respond at all.  It’s disrespectful. It implies my job is something anyone can do, and do well, given a laptop and enough spare time.

It’d be kind of like me sending a pile of badly sawed logs to a carpenter and expecting praise.

To be clear: the men who send me writing samples are not writers themselves, or at least not real writers. Real writers would: a) be convinced that if they send me a sample of their work I will never want to meet them; or b) know that I am too busy doing my own writing to have time to read their work.

I did meet one real writer who offered to make me pancakes if I would proofread the manuscript of his rather long nonfiction book. But at least we’d gone out on a few dates beforehand.

Editing As Lust Buster

I don’t mention that I am an editor in my dating profile, but sometimes a man will ask me what I have been working on and I will answer that I have been editing an article or a book. I have never had anyone reply that this sounds cool or send me samples of his editing.  Some men wonder, “Are you going to bring along your red pencil and correct my grammar?” but not in a way that would suggest they might find this form of discipline exciting.  Others say, “That’s like being a censor, right?”

Wrong. It’s the opposite of being a censor.

At its best, editing is like coaching — basketball coaching, if you want a sports metaphor, birth coaching, if you prefer something earthier. A good editor can help you bring your best game to your writing, take your book to fruition.

But that’s a bit complicated to explain, even with the help of metaphors, though I’m planning to try in my next few posts. In the meantime, until I figure out how to make the work sound a bit more exciting, I’ll continue to omit “editor” from my profile.

“Must love dogs” will always stay in, of course.

Coming soon: The difference between developmental editing, line editing, and copy editing, and other really sexy topics.

photo credit: A summer home : the Pavilion Hotel, Howe’s Cave, Schoharie County, N.Y. (1885) via photopin (license)


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About the Author

Edie Jarolim is a writer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. Sign up on this blog to get updates about her humorous tell-all/memoir, GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All.

2 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Kate Kaemerle says:

    A good editor is worth her weight in gold!

  2. Mike Webster says:

    I want you to know, at the very least, that I find this post very entertaining. (And very intriguing. Yes, I really am one of those people who wants to learn about those three types of editing.)

    But the full depth of my response could never find sufficient adequacy of expression in this limited “Reply” space.

    So instead, I’ll be emailing the manuscript. It’s now at 10,000 pages.

    Perhaps you could take a look in your spare time? 🙂

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