Forward, Two Years

Now it’s over two years after my last post, when I was struggling to find work in Minneapolis. Two-and-a-half years later, my position at my former office has been ended and I’m looking for work once more. What have I learned in all this time?

  1. Nobody admires you for pointing out all the typos and minor grammatical errors you spot around town. Actually, that’s annoying.
  2. Many of the “errors” young grammarians point out aren’t errors at all: the rules were mistaken. A good editor will do much research before shooting their mouth off.
  3. Gender-neutral singular “they” has been in active, constant usage in English for 600 years. The only people who grouse about it are people who personally dislike it. As for serial commas: we don’t need freakin’ commas everywhere, all the time, in every case. Even Oxford’s PR dept. doesn’t use the so-called “Oxford comma.”
  4. When a client hands you copy and it’s clearly wrong, but they like it that way, push back once and back off. Document that you raised an objection and let it go.
  5. As a copyeditor, don’t just tell your coworkers that something’s wrong. Explain it with an amusing newsletter or book a 30-minute meeting to address some recurring issues. Show them the best practices for business writing, make them feel like you’re on a team instead of being judged by you.
  6. Follow editors, linguists and lexicographers on Twitter, and read the articles they publish. All of them, every time.
  7. It is very hard to find an editorial message board that doesn’t degrade into racism.
  8. Editing crosses over handily into UX testing, cross-platform QA and fact-checking. Exploit that. In fact, try to learn a new and related skill each month.
  9. Either someone’s trying to trick you with a subtle error in copy, or the production team didn’t follow up on your request for the client. Always be on the alert, and if tracking these issues to completion means people stop inviting you to lunch or greeting you in the hallway, so be it.
  10. Keep a work journal of your personal victories, because you will not remember them during your performance review.

When I worked at Modern Climate in 2009, I thought I knew my stuff. And I did, but I was naive and untested. By the time I left Carmichael Lynch to study abroad in 2010, I felt I’d seen the heat of combat and was now a high-powered editor of no little salt. Now, as the curtains have drawn on my time at StoneArch, my expanded experience only impresses me with how much I don’t know, all the realms I have to pursue and study. I’m better now, I could send the 2009-me home crying, but now I’m hungry for challenge and plunging into the unknown.

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