Stereotypes and Editors
When you think of an editor, what do you think of? Do you imagine I work at a desk, surrounded by style guides and hardback grammar books? Do you imagine that I spend my time highlighting books that fall under the category of Literature, with a capital L? Do you imagine I scroll through my Facebook feed gleefully pointing out all the grammatical errors in every post? Do you imagine when I'm editing I spend my time looking up the intricacies of comma usage and vertical lists?
The truth is, I probably don't spend my free time or work time the way you think I do. I do have a desk, but there are all kinds of things on it. In my line of sight are the following books: The Values Factor by Dr. John Demartini, The Vulnerable Observer by Ruth Behar, Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald, an old weather journal, two under-used adult coloring books, and a smattering of journals and planners. I did have the The Copyeditor's Handbook out earlier, but it lives on a bookshelf. I also have scrabble tiles, coffee mugs, water cups, pictures, cards, and a fake plant from Ikea (I can't keep anymore plants alive).
For reading, I do enjoy some literature with a capital L, but currently I'm reading an embarrassing amount of YA fiction and some heavy nonfiction reads. You need a little Red Queen to balance out The Tears We Cannot Stop and They Buried My Heart at Wounded Knee. I'm a sucker for rereading Harry Potter and love some Hunger Games.
And for the record, I do not point out grammar errors on social media feeds. The only exception to this is if a friend is a business owner and there's a big typo, I'll text them about it. Friends have each other's backs. But, if I need to setup a standard vertical list guide for a company style guide, you bet I will go on a deep dive in the CMOS section on vertical lists. While I may deep dive on grammar for clients, I also look up a lot of random things when I'm editing. Sometimes it's spelling, sometimes it's for proper context, and sometimes it's for accuracy. You can't guess at the answer when you're an editor, you have to know the answer.
So, to give you a laugh and help you reconsider what you think an editor is, I'm introducing my new blog series, "Things I Look Up When I'm Editing."
Things I Look Up When I'm Editing
Q: Do alligators hibernate?
A: Spoiler, they don't.
Q: What is the past tense of barbecue (BBQ)?
A: Barbecued. Pro tip: spell it out in any tense to make all the other tenses make more sense.
Q: Does the Sydney Opera House have a more specific name?
Q: Is manta ray one word or two?
Q: Is pet peeve hyphenated and is that the correct spelling?
A: It's not hyphenated and that is the correct spelling. And for laughs, check out this great article about pet peeves.
Q: Cosy or cozy? I had a feeling cosy was the British cognate, so technically correct, but would look incorrect to an American audience. I wanted to check before I brought it up with the client.
A: Merriam Webster tells me it's the "chiefly British spelling of cozy."
Did I change your mind on what an editor does or who an editor is? Did any of these look-ups surprise you?
Let me know in the comments!