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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Where I want my next paycheck to come from


Hello all,  It's like this.  I'm looking for more permanent work than henna art allows me to have, and after some thought, I've decided that I want to be a copy editor.  What follows is a sample worked out during live chat between me and a client:
Client:
On top of that, it had been a big mistake to choose the evening class. The last thing she needed when she was already tired and worn out from her other classes was listening to the professors unusually monotonous voice that seemed designed to lull her into sleep. She spent a lot of her time absently doodling or daydreaming about Tara to keep her eyelids from dropping.
On top of that, it wasn't the best class to have in the evening when she was already worn out from her other classes; the professor had an unusually monotonous voice that seemed designed to lull her into sleep. She spent a lot of her time absently doodling or daydreaming about Tara to keep her eyelids from dropping.


Heather: okay, in the first one, you want professor's, not professors
Heather: and in both of them you want drooping instead of dropping 
Client: yeh, but which one sounds better? 
Heather: i like the first better, though i'd also change it to "the last thing she needed ... was TO listen to...." instead of "listening to"
Heather: unusually monotonous voice, which seemed Heather: in the second one, "that" sounds fine but in the first one i think "which" fits better 
Client: ok, so with all the errors fixed:
On top of that, it had been a big mistake to choose the evening class. The last thing she needed when she was already tired and worn out from her other classes was to listen to the professor's unusually monotonous voice, which seemed designed to lull her into sleep. She spent a lot of her time absently doodling or daydreaming about Tara to keep her eyelids from drooping.
On top of that, it wasn't the best class to have in the evening when she was already worn out from her other classes; the professor had an unusually monotonous voice that seemed designed to lull her into sleep. She spent a lot of her time absently doodling or daydreaming about Tara to keep her eyelids from drooping.

Client: i used to prefer the second one, but now i think i'm leaning on the first one too 
Heather: well, now i like them both equally 
Client: the first one has more words 
Heather: your call
Heather: the second one, add a comma "have in the evening, when" Heather: they both work well and i like them both equally now, so pick your favorite 
There.  As you can see, I'm not actually writing the words for my client; I'm helping her clean up and clarify the words she has already written, by correcting grammar and punctuation and suggesting other word choices.

If anybody out there has a suggestion, or contacts, or anything like that to help me get a foot in the door, I'd be very grateful.  My challenge right now is that, while I do this on a volunteer basis for the ladies in my amateur writing group, I have no actual, professional "on the job" experience to put on a resume.  I've never done it for pay and don't have a former employer I can use as a reference.  All I can do is say, "but I'm really good, honest" and hope someone is willing to believe me and take a chance.
I hate the job search.  Even - maybe especially - when I'm searching for a job I actually want.

1 comment:

  1. It's me, @TheCheekyGinger, from Twitter. I have more advice! Yay me! Firstly, I'll tell you right off that my advice is largely based on things I've learned over the past few months from my own blogging efforts, plus just general wisdom gleaned along the way. Discard or take however much makes sense. I think it's good advice, but I'm likely not very objective, since I like me very much and think I am quite snazzy (though am also plagued with self-doubt).

    As I've already mentioned, a great way to start would be to set up a site with "before and after" chunks of text, kind of like what you have in this entry, except perhaps in a side-by-side (or other easily readable) format. These don't have to be from paying clients. You could get writing from your friends, random places on the web (careful of copyright, of course), etc., edit it for grammar, punctuation, content, style, whatever. As you get real clients, you can add their excerpts (with permission, duh) to your site.

    It very well might be a good idea to have a tie-in with your blog, or even have it all on the same site, maybe even all rolled into a blog. But probably not this blog. You really want to sell the idea that you ARE a professional copy editor, and that's likely going to require a place on the web that's dedicated to that one small corner of you. On this hypothetical blog, you could offer tips to your readers on how to improve their writing while simultaneously offering your editing services. SHOW the world how good you are. It's perfectly fine if it's all made up to begin with. The point is, you can do what you say you can. As a writer looking for an editor, that's precisely what I'd want to see.

    It will be a lot of work. You'll refine your approach over time. You'll need to decide how and what to charge. I believe you can do it, because—well, because I know exactly what it's like to dabble in the details of lots of things, finally admit to yourself that there is ONE you want to focus on (though not to the exclusion of all else; what a creeping horror that would be), and be at the very beginning stages of making that dream real.

    WARNING: Super practical thing to follow. Sounds commercial-ish, but I swear I am not making any money off this.

    I JUST bought the guide here: http://www.problogger.net/31-days-to-build-a-better-blog-join-9100-other-bloggers-today/. I've only been able to apply the first day's task, but already I feel like it was quite an improvement. *If* you decide to do the bloggy-website thing, from what I've seen of this so far, I recommend it. If you're on the fence, just feel me out about what I'm doing, and I'll be happy to let you know how it's going.

    I'd wish you luck, but I know you don't really need it. You just need to get to work. So get to work! :)

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