Monday, October 4, 2010

The Editing Working Girl

It all started with a piece of fiction.

'Never Been Kissed' (that teen cult classic starring Drew Barrymore as an undercover journalist turned high school student, I really hope you know the one) came out in 1999. I was in 7th grade. Back then I wore uniforms to school, watched the boys play sports during break and started planning my last year of junior high and eventual rise to high school cheeleader (a goal which was accomplished, by the way). Also? That was the year I started editing my friends' papers because Ms. Josie Gellar indirectly helped me learn that yes, people can actually have a career telling others their grammar is wrong.

Her character was a copy editor for the Chicago Sun-Times. Her character helped me discover my desire to be an Editing Working Girl.

Throughout my high school years I continued marking my friends' papers with red pen and for some reason could not get an "A" on a paper in Senior Honors English (yes, I'm still bitter). I went on to a UC and started out my college career as a Literature/Writing major with a minor in Communication. This little plan changed when I realized my major required me to take Literature in a Foreign Language. I did what any respectable girl who tried both Latin and Greek to no avail would do - I flip-flopped my major and minor and bypassed the whole thing. I took the standard Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry classes and even got to spend time on Writing for Digital Media and Media Writing. I realized that writing was something that is really subjective and grades are kind of a moot point but I respected the critiques of my professors and even some of my peers. I formed friendships and fell in love with the possibilities words presented and knew that sadly, my studies wouldn't be enough.

As one of the few Communication and Literature/Writing students not planning to go on for an MFA in Fiction, I knew I would have to start putting my degree to use before I even received it. So besides my job shelving at the University library, I took on an editorial internship at a local publication which was a guide to the city. I was there for over a year and did the beginner's grunt work of fact checking: I got to call each and every client and make sure we had correctly printed their hours, phone number and address and any other relevant information we had included. I moved up to becoming the Publisher's Assistant and was in charge of babysitting the sales team who didn't like filling out their required paperwork. I didn't get to write and wasn't needed to edit, so I quit.

I then became Editorial Intern for a national magazine. I got to transcribe radio interviews, actually copy edit pieces for the Senior Copy Editor and
got to sit in on editorial meetings. I was in love with what I was doing. At the same time I was spending a few hours a week as Intern at a local literary agency learning how not to write as I sent out rejection letters and learning how to edit as I was assigned to edit a 350-page manuscript. I was so excited that I read through the manuscript three times.

Then, I had to graduate. I stopped all of my internships, packed up my Jetta and moved half-way across the country hoping to move somewhere where the unemployment rate wasn't 12% (sorry California). I wound up in Texas with no job, no friends and a degree that I thought was worthless. To be honest, it may have been without those internships.

One day during one of my many sessions perusing Craigslist.org for writing opportunities and cursing my internships for doing me no good, I saw it: the national magazine I had interned for was looking for someone for the editorial staff in Texas. I applied and really it shouldn't have been as easy as it was for me to get the job but lucky for me I made a good impression in my time there.

Today is my edit deadline for my 9th issue.

Sometimes when I am at home working on things for my issue or assigning freelance assignments, I can't believe I get paid to do what I love. I keep 2 copies of every monthly issue on my bookcase at home and still get a bit giddy seeing my name in print.

I am looking forward to sharing my editing journey with all of you as I tackle and finish my editorial for each month and would love to hear from other Editing Working Girls out there! My e-mail is editingworkinggirl (at) gmail (dot) com - let's share our love of writing and grammar (my boyfriend will thank you).

11 comments:

Angeline said...

Love this! I can totally relate...English was my worst subject in school but I was determined to be a magazine editor. My college major was not writing related at all (still loved it tho), but afterward I took off to NYC for J-school and an internship. While I'm mostly in the communications realm now, I have been the in-house magazine editor for all my jobs since grad school, which is still a little like my dream come true.

Amy said...

I LOVE copyediting. I get waaaay too excited when I get to proofread something at work.

Anonymous said...

Welcome, Editing Working Girl! I look forward to reading your posts.

Paige said...

oh man i used to want to be a copy editor and then i realized i effing suck at AP style. congrats to you!

eemusings said...

Heyyy! We sound so alike. I'm a news editor, which is pretty much my dream job.

But there really is nothing quite like seeing your name in print :)

Kelsey said...

while editing is not particularly my thing, I really understand what you mean about doing something you love and getting paid for it. I have a part-time job in PR and it's shown me what I love.

P said...

Yay, I'm glad you're here finally, Editing Working Girl! I'm Senior Editor with an academic publishing house (and a PhD student) and it's so much a part of me that even when people are giving a speech, say, I am editing their speech as I hear it! :P No, seriously. Looking forward to your posts and to sharing my experience as well.

Editing Working Girl said...

I was editing this post even after I posted it. Such is the life...

Erin said...

I am so glad to have a fellow writer/editor/communications major around here. I took every opportunity I could to write/edit in a professional manner during my college career.

It's been difficult to launch a professional career in this field. I have bounced around and am currently writing freelance home and garden articles. It's fun, but pay is minimal, so I am always chasing the next opportunity. I am excited to have someone around here that understands.

Erin B. Inspired said...

Yay! A writing Working Girl. That's so fun! I'm not in editing, though I have a Journalism degree and love of everything grammar and spelling related. I was often put in charge of editing my friend's papers. :)

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