Some people feel immense satisfaction in dusting their picture frames or ironing socks. I’m never going to be a domestic goddess. But that’s how I feel about polishing a piece of writing to make it the best it can be.
Unlike housework, editing doesn’t mean doing exactly the same thing next week, because every job is different.
The path to proofreading
I always loved getting to the nitty gritty of how words work.
But I was 30, with two young children and an unsatisfying job, before English Language became an A-Level subject. So I took myself off to evening classes…
… and eventually found myself studying English Language and Linguistics with the Open University in my ‘spare time’ while working as a Teaching Assistant. It took six years. And I loved every minute of it.
How does that help you?
Well, I’ve done my homework… A BA (Hons) First Class means you can trust me to know my stuff about language.
Then I trained for another year to qualify as a teacher. Teaching means communicating information clearly – and that’s what editing is all about. Many happy years of deciphering children’s writing did no harm, either!
As English Language co-ordinator at a primary school, I ran training courses for parents and staff in grammar and phonics, as well as teaching children. Those are very varied audiences – so I know all about putting across the same information in different ways.
That’s also why I now specialise in factual writing.
Your reader’s viewpoint
My job is to look at whatever you’ve written from the viewpoint of your intended audience. In other words, I wear different ‘hats’ to help bring out the best in the text.
If you’ve written a CV, I’m your prospective employer. If you’ve written a website, I’m the client you’re trying to persuade. If you’re self-publishing a ‘How to’ book, I’m the novice who needs to understand your instructions easily.
It’s your writing – your voice should shine through. But I can suggest ways of making it clearer, or more suitable, or more appealing.
Does an editor know all the rules?
The most important thing about writing is what it means to the reader. Yes, there are rules about grammar, spelling and punctuation, and they are important. But there aren’t nearly as many rules as some people assume, and language is always changing.
If you think I’ve broken some rules anywhere in this website, please do let me know. Or take a look at Pernickety Kate’s Blog for more thoughts on language and writing.
Life beyond editing
When I’m not in proofreading mode, I’m a singer with three groups – a folk foursome enjoying gigs at clubs and festivals all over the country; a duo performing traditional songs in English, French and Breton; and a quartet singing mostly Tudor music. Tra laa!
Reading and writing obviously goes with the territory. I’ve dabbled with short stories, enjoyed writing successful musical stage plays for children, and am working on a non-fiction book of my own – you’ll be among the first to know when it’s ready.
I also regularly produce articles about language and writing as a guest blogger for Mill House Media.
In all my home endeavours, I’m happily hindered by three cats called Bonbon, Athena and Faustus, and supplied with frequent cups of strong coffee by one very patient husband.