Adventures in editing

Recently at work I got the chance to do copyedits and line edits on a manuscript, and I actually found and corrected several errors, including one in a chapter title (!) that no one else had caught. It’s kind of exciting to know that I’m actually contributing to the quality of the finished product—I mean, odds are that someone else would have caught the mistakes if I hadn’t, but I was the one who did.

IMG_1391.rJPG[caught this today, too—yes, that is an error message popping up on a Times Square billboard]

There are still a lot of things I’m trying to discern in my life: how best to use the gifts and skills I’ve been given, how best to serve others. There have definitely been times I’ve felt like I was never going to figure any of it out, and truth be told I still feel that way sometimes. Coming out to New York was a big leap of faith, and it’s nice (and a relief) to get some kind of confirmation that it was the right decision, that I am suited to this work. It’s just one piece of a much larger puzzle, but it’s a step in the right direction. I can be patient in watching the rest of the picture unfold.

Working on editing manuscripts gives me a new perspective on errors I find in books. I already had a keen eye for that kind of thing (a blessing and a curse), but now when I see an error, I think of all the various people who overlooked a mistake amidst the rush to meet a deadline. I think of the editor cringing upon seeing it in print.

Just this weekend, when I started flipping through our new book club pick, I noticed a mistake in the jacket flap copy right away—the name of the author’s wife had been misspelled. It was spelled correctly on the dedication page, however.

kimberly[an editor’s worst nightmare]

I’ve also realized how some of my past experiences have made me uniquely qualified to edit these particular books—I know the correct spellings and usage of architecture terminology, and my travels have made me familiar with the proper names of many of the places and people mentioned. For instance, I know that it’s the “San Antonio River Walk” and not the “San Antonio Riverfront”; I know that Gaspar de Portolá’s name is shortened to “Portolá” and not “de Portolá”; I know just where Belo Horizonte is; and of course, I know that in Rome, they are piazzas, not plazas. I know all these things because they are burned into my memory after nights eating nachos with band kids in Texas, jogs through my California neighborhood with buildings named after Spanish explorer Portolá, long chats with friends while sipping Guaraná in Brazil, and twirling amidst the cobblestones on so many happy evenings, gelato in hand. Even my minor obsession with Sporcle geography quizzes has come in handy in spelling Ljubljana. I might be new to editing, but as it turns out, my experience has well prepared me, even in ways I might not have expected. Or maybe I’m just the Slumdog Millionaire of editorial interns.

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