Many times in my life I’ve worked as a writer or editor. Sometimes it’s been a lonely gig. Other times I’ve been welcomed as part of a larger team. The best times were always when I was with like-minded friends. And, as an editor, the very best of these were when I’ve been with fellow word-loving folks.
Many people who don’t edit think all editors are grammarians. And, let’s face it, even as I write this there’s probably an editor out there who wants to fix this sentence. And this one. And probably this one too.
Like humans, though, we’re all different. Some are on the path of comma correctness. Some are advocates for a cause. Some find a happy middle ground. I’m in the advocate camp, but sometimes you just need to get the job done. Like any good editor, I can comfortably find my way to a place where best practice meets practical needs.
This meeting place is what makes working in a team of editors and writers so very good. It’s the chat around the water-cooler of words. It’s hard to describe if you’ve never had the pleasure. I think it’s a little like Wordle. The enjoyment of playing the game only lasts a minute or two. It’s what happens afterwards that makes it so grand. It’s that push and pull of the after-words. The quiet, shared knowledge of a verb or two.
We’ve all worked in roles on our own. We can make it work and can create great things. The sweet weaving that comes from other professionals, though? That’s something else. It’s about support and camaraderie. It goes beyond the how-to. Saving perhaps your own good self, dear reader, very few editors know the answer to every question. The hive-mind of people who love and respect words? It’s a gem. A treasure. A deep, dark blanket of all the connected fragments. They gather together to give you confidence. And, sometimes, to give you pause. Because that’s what the best editing friend will do for you. Help you question. Help you know.
A gathering of editors is a boisterous affair. But when we listen, we hear more voices. We learn different ways of thinking. With any luck, and with the storm at our shoulders, we might even lower barriers or open doors for a reader or two.
We rarely get to choose whether we work with other editors. But when you can, it’s worth it. And if you can’t? Go looking. Find yourself a happy huddle of editors. We’re worth the effort.
Is the editing life a lonely one? It can be. When it isn’t, though, it’s more than a little fine.
Rosalie Wodecki has more than 20 years experience as an editor and online writer. Over half of that time has been with the South Australian Department for Education. She has a deep and unending love of plain English.