Wednesday, March 03, 2010

why become a book editor? (Your Questions continued)

The Novelist asks: How did you end up doing what you do? Did you always want to be an editorial assistant? Was there something else you wanted to do and you just ended up where you are? I know that is 3 questions, I am just curious.

It's funny how epiphanies work. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and made a series of career accidents basically to fill my time until I graduated from college. I worked in a bookstore for 5 years in high school and college, I worked in my small town library and then in my college library, I took a job as a private editorial assistant for one of the professors in my department who was working on a textbook, and I took an internship at a literary agency (I heard you were supposed to do internships or something). Then, right after graduation, I got called in for an interview for an editorial assistant position. Duh. Why hadn't I thought of that before? There was literally nothing else in the world I was prepared to do for a career, and there was literally nothing else that would have been as awesome for me.

I don't mean to be flippant. This story is kind of true (I mean, I MUST have had a plan, right? I just don't remember what it was). But I feel like I'm supposed to be here. I LOVE editing. I get so excited to work on a project that it doesn't really feel like work a lot of the time.

My mom is still holding onto hope that I'll become a CIA agent, instead. To be honest, if I do, I probably won't let you know ;)

15 comments:

lynnrush said...

Great story. Isn't it funny how we fall into careers? Happened with me too.

Thanks for sharing your story.

JES said...

You would make an adorable CIA agent. You'd get away with stuff like crazy because nobody would believe you actually had, like, martial-arts and surveillance skills.

Of course then, I guess you wouldn't be able to blog about it. And even if you did, when you answered questions like this one you'd have to redact 90% of it. (All but the prepositions.)

Love reading this sort of thing. Thanks for sharing the story, and the reminder that not all accidents are bad ones.

Lydia Kang said...

Sure you could tell us. It's the killing-us-after part I don't like.

Lydia Sharp said...

I loved this. :)

Claire Dawn said...

Thanks!

I know question time is over, but I wondered... You're making this editorial bit sound interesting. Any advice? What kinda person does well in the editorial world. What are the prerequisites: qualifications and characterstics, etc?

I'd love if you had the time to answer, but if not, that's cool too. Thanks!

moonrat said...

Martial arts skills... hmmm...

Claire Dawn--it's not too too late! I'll put your question on my list to answer.

Anonymous said...

Are you still taking questions? If not, please ignore!

We just found out my grandmother is penning a book about her experiences meeting people (some men, some just quirky people) at retirement community. My concern is that the people might not want to be written about, and she is not in contact with many of them to ask.

If you tell something about someone, even if it's true and even if you don't use the peron's name, could there be legal issues? Invastion of privacy or something? I would think this would come up a lot in memoirs--clearly when someone like Augusten Bourroughs writes about his childhood, people can figure out who the other people were, and I think they sued. But there he was saying bad stuff. What if it's just funny stuff?

Thanks!!! Again, sorry if you're done with the whole question soliciting thing!

Ulysses said...

A CIA agent? But that would mean that all of your blog posts are coded communications with another agent posing as a commenter... Hmm. The Aunda is actually Barak Obama's code name, isn't it? Quotes from Robert the Publisher are really status updates on the latest black ops in Bolivia. Your obsession with food actually covers the transmission of co-ordinates for nuclear research stations and chemical/biological weapons factories ("sushi")...

I KNEW IT! Wow! You are so cool!

(And I am so paranoid... but my world is so much more interesting than the real one...)

Editor with an Ice Pick said...

@ Anonymous, 1:01 pm: You can probably let your grandmother just pen away in peace. I hear that the market for memoirs is pretty well saturated.

wonderer said...

I edit non-fiction and followed a similar path to get here. Library assistant while at school. Temp agency after graduation. My last temp job, in the government, led to my being recommended for a part-time non-fiction editorial position in another department. Several years and one cross-country move later, I hit the jackpot: full-time with benefits. Funny how these things happen!

moonrat said...

Ulysses--it sure is. I'd like to live there. "Sushi."

_*rachel*_ said...

It's actually a CIA officer. Unless you want to be an analyst.

In some respects, you might be good at it. CIA officers, I'm told, have to be good at and able to play god with people's lives. You're an editor--you've got that covered.

One of my teachers is a retired CIA officer. He hates the phrase "connecting the dots."

Sinhalaman said...

Would your mother consider moving from editing to actual writing a career change for the better? Hmmm, all those people whose lives involve letters are strange people. :)

Christa said...

I love hearing about people who have careers doing what they absolutely love to do. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could get up and actually enjoy going in to work or starting a new project.

The Novelist said...

Thanks for the answer and I am looking forward to the answer to Claire Dawn's question.

I like the CIA idea. As long as it is just like Alias, because TV is real right ;).