I recently mentioned some of the books I’d had the opportunity to work on, either as a copy editor or as a proofreader. I had a lot of fun doing this. It’s exciting to be part of the process of a new book being published, one that I might see on the shelf of a bookstore very soon.
It’s not surprising that I became an editor, because I’ve always loved to read, and have been a reader since I was five years old. Reading was always a much-needed escape as a child, and I’ve never gotten out of the habit. I remember declaring almost as soon as I learned to read that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I changed my goals several times over the years when I was in grade school and high school, but as things turned out I did start my career as a writer–I worked as a newspaper reporter for many years. I later moved into editing, but every editing job I’ve ever had always included writing of one type or another. So, yes, for the last 25+ years I’ve supported myself by working with words.
In recent years, I found myself in medical writing and editing. I have about 10 years under my belt in medical publishing, and it’s a good thing to have on your resume. Yes, I’m very familiar with annotating references; the AMA style guide is my friend! And medical editing can be rewarding to some degree. For instance, if the material I’m producing educates doctors about the use of the latest cancer medication–which may prolong a patient’s life–it feels like my work is making some sort of difference in the world.
But fiction and mainstream nonfiction are so much more fun. There’s no getting around it. I love telling friends, hey, check out this book I worked on–this writer is terrific.
I feel proud to have helped out in some degree, to have helped find errors that may make the reading experience less positive for a reader. The world at large may think typos are no big deal, but I don’t think readers are that forgiving.