Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ten Lessons from the Editor's Cubicle

Time for a few early observations from my internship at the book publishing department of Focus on the Family. I’ve been there for one whole entire day! I’m clearly an expert now. So you all should listen to my vast store of wisdom.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  1. There really is such a thing as a diva author who refuses to accept changes to his manuscript. I always thought it was a myth. I haven’t met one yet, but I heard some great stories.
  2. Everyone can give parenting advice. Everyone.
  3. “It takes the brainstorming people five minutes to think up an idea. It takes us twelve months to make it happen. And then they ask us what’s taking so long.” (According to my supervisor.)
  4. It’s much more helpful when an author at least delivers a manuscript that’s “medium rare” instead of “bloody and raw.” (Also according to my supervisor.)
  5. Hide from the Adventures in Odyssey people. They’re crazy. And if they think you’re bored, or might possibly start feeling bored in the next few minutes, they will hijack you for some project. Because it’s their 25th anniversary/birthday/whatever-you-call-an-annual-celebration-for-a-non-human. And that means we need a ton of Odyssey-related books (fun for me!).
  6. I know pretty much nothing about copy-editing (“Um…is it 9 PM or 9 pm? Because we have both within three paragraphs.”). I’m also probably butchering the proofreading symbols to make what looks like the grammatical version of modern art. But I’m having fun!
  7. At the end of a day of editing, what I want to do is go back and write. After reading seven or eight different authors, I want to find my own voice so I don’t forget what it sounds like.
  8. Cubicles are surprisingly bad for long-distance eavesdropping. You know how you can jerk your head up when you hear your own name, no matter how focused you are? I’ve done that a few times, but no matter how hard I strain, I miss the rest. Maybe because those crazy Adventures in Odyssey people are being loud….
  9. You know it’s going to be a good day when you’re asked, “So, do you want to work on Corrie Ten Boom or the cannibals?”
  10. And, finally, after a long day of working with words, you don’t feel like writing out a blog post on writing, so you end up making a semi-informative list instead.
Well, off to my second day of work, where I’ll acquire so much more wisdom that it will be unbelievable. (I might do this post again at the very end of my internship. We’ll see what has changed.)

1 comment:

  1. Today's gem from the daily writing newsletter to which I subscribe: "...Muphry’s law states that any criticism of a writing or editing error will itself contain such an error." While at an editor's desk, I have no doubt you'll face Muphry's law at some point. :)