A Copyeditor’s Rant

During my disappearance from this blog, I spent a lot of my time proofreading, editing, and copyediting.

First, while people tend to use the terms interchangeably:

  • A proofreader checks text for syntax, spelling, punctuation, and other similar errors and corrects them.
  • An editor may do the above, but also will consider the content of the piece, the order of sentences, meaning, style, how the author addresses the audience, and other, deeper issues.
  • A copyeditor deals with text intended for publication – for instance, in a magazine or a book, proofreads it, checks it for accuracy (for instance, are the names of sources spelled correctly?), and then formats the material according to the “house style” of the publisher.

As you can see, each job has slightly different responsibilities. Mostly, I’ve been copyediting the local publication I mentioned in earlier blog posts. In general, I love the job. The hours are flexible (so I’m free to take care of sick kids or errands), and I get to make other writers look good. I’ve developed great working relationships with several of the columnists, thank G-d.

But there are also annoyances. And – without naming names – I’m going to tell you about some of them, because many of the people who read this blog are also writers, and those who aren’t may still be in a position where they have to write something for public consumption. A little awareness about common issues might prove helpful to you.

Continue reading

The Devil is in the details: why paying attention is important

-sigh-

So there I was, patting myself on the back for having a completely kosher for Passover kitchen a full 5 days before the holiday, when I sat down to dinner with the kids for their first dinner cooked in that kitchen.

I’m not so into convenience foods at any time of year, let alone at Pesach, but this year, I decided to get on box of kosher for Passover fish-stick-thingies and one bag of frozen fries. Add some broccoli, and there’s a great pre-Passover dinner, right?

Dinner went over okay. But after dinner… Continue reading

Coping with rejection, again.

Okay, so I’ve written about rejection a lot of times. Like, a whole lotta times. But since the story I revised and returned to my wonderful editor is still deemed insufficiently engaging by her, I’m coping with rejection again. (Honestly, she gave me the option of cutting half its length, but I have officially washed my hands of the whole situation.) If I have to cope with it, I might as well post about it. Continue reading

Helping out the illustrator, even when you don’t know who they are yet

I’ve been working on a new picture book manuscript, my first one in a while. It’s a poem that came out of  experiences with my kids and with others’ and the troubles they face.

I put it away for a couple days, pulling it out again this morning. Now that I’ve decided it’s a picture book, I’m revising it with an eye to the requirements of the format.

O the horror! It’s unillustrateable!

(Yes, I just made that word up.)

What do I mean?  Continue reading

But what about my Voice!?! What a writer should do when an editor asks for “a few changes.”

parakeet

Hey, buddy! What about my voice?

Last week, I got an email from an editor (she’ll be the heroine of this story, but will remain nameless nonetheless). She asked me to make one change–one very small change–to the story that I had submitted.

Because I trust this editor–she’s very good at what she does and has built a friendly relationship with me–I said I’d make the teeny-tiny change she’d requested.

And then I panicked.  Continue reading

Thank the folks who’ve rejected you–a radical suggestion for writers this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us here in the U.S., and this is a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon gratitude, whether you celebrate the holiday or not. I’m a big fan of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin and also of Rabbi Shalom Arush, and I’m going to combine their approaches for this writing exercise appropriate to the Thanksgiving season and year-round. This exercise is useful whether you’re Jewish or not–please don’t get turned off to it just because it was inspired by a couple of rabbis.

mother offering child medicine

Be grateful for the medicine–it’s good for you.

Rejection is just about the hardest thing to cope with when you decide you’re going to become a writer, but it’s something that you need to learn to accept graciously. When that rejection letter first comes, you are often overwhelmed by feelings of resentment, anger, and frustration. You might lash out, calling the editors idiots or saying that the publisher doesn’t know what good writing is. You might despair, consider yourself a failure, or even give up writing.

But here’s the truth–you were meant to be rejected, at least in this specific instance. Continue reading