Being an editor is easy. It only takes years of schooling where you pay acute attention to all those grammar classes, another few years at the university where you hone your language skills, another year or so studying journalism, and then years and years of hands-on work perfecting your craft.
Also, be ready to keep working on other people’s creations, making it perfect and more often than not, never getting any acknowledgement for your hard-work.
Sounds good? I can almost see the eyes rolling and hear the question: Why? Why would you ever become an editor?
My answer, as also of all other editors, is: Because I love editing.
This is the secret to becoming a good editor. You need to be passionate about editing to spend hours dealing with copy that might be moderately bad to terrible. At the end, when you have transformed it to something that is a pleasure to read, the satisfaction of a job well done is incomparable.
A good editor is not only adept at language and grammar, she is also able to pick out holes in any article, identify errors and has almost total recall. So shoddy work in any area — books, TV series, movies, articles — is a source of irritation.
I remember that when I watched Full House, which ran on ABC for eight seasons, the carelessness in terms of characteristics of the various characters or ages really irked me.
For instance, Danny Tanner is shown as someone who has always been extremely neat and obsessed with cleanliness. Joey’s dad vouches for this in Season 4 Episode 7 Viva Las Joey, and Danny himself when he says in Season 5 Episode 22 The Trouble with Danny that his mom gave him his own set of vacuum cleaner attachments and called him her little helper when he was a child. But in Season 1 Episode 4 The Return of Grandma, Danny and the rest of the boys are taken to task by their mothers for not cleaning the house. How did this happen?
Similarly Kimmy is supposed to be an only daughter through the series, except for Season 1 Episode 1, when DJ says that Kimmy has her own room despite having three sisters.
Things like this irk me because as an editor I am trained to catch aberrations and mistakes.
I remember a story from a reporter that was actually published that talked of naphtha prices having hit an all-time high. On reading the story, I found that the last high was mentioned and the high before that, but there was nothing on what the new high was. A 600-word story that fails to tell you the all-time high price of naphtha. What a tease!
On the other hand, you can end up being a grammar Nazi who compulsively edits even cinema tickets.
Given a choice, better be the editor with OCD than the one who forces the reader to throw the book at the wall because of a badly edited article.