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Posts Tagged ‘career change’

Le crayon rougeLast Thursday, around midnight, my wife was hauled down a long, lonely corridor, knocked unconscious, and stabbed five times.

At least that’s how her surgeon described it.

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Dragons AheadIt’s been an interesting week, writing-wise, and while no, it wasn’t “interesting” in the sense of “Oh God Oh God We’re all going to die!” it was interesting in the sense used by the old Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.

This week I received:

  • validation on my writing
  • several rejections on my writing
  • bad news on the job change front
  • an invitation to submit a book to a trade show

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Le crayon rougeA large part of my “journey” from IT professional to editor is bolstering my own confidence level. While I’ve edited, copy edited, and proofread over a dozen novel-length books and scores of shorter works — both for myself and for others — I haven’t done this work as an editing professional. That, when put alongside the generally unstructured education I received in grammar (Hey, it was the ’60s; we didn’t burden ourselves with rules), means that while I have an innate command of the English language, I sometimes struggle to put into words exactly why an error is, in fact, an error.

The curse of being an autodidact is that I can miss things in my self-learning curricula, and that means I often fret about the completeness of my skill sets. The old 80/20 adage states that most of the time (80%), you only use a small portion (20%) of the skill set; conversely, the lion’s share of the skill set is seldom needed. In teaching myself a new skill, it’s relatively easy to learn that first twenty percent, but it is deuced hard to uncover the secrets of the infrequently used remainder.

As you can imagine, these gaps erode my confidence. Big time.

To counter this, I’ve been studying like mad. I quizzed my editor friends about classes and coursework, and received some guidance on what is of value and what might not be. Some suggestions were easier to implement than others.

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Le crayon rougeIt’s been a week of riding the rails, but not trains. . . roller coasters.

I’ve been studying for my new, hoped-for profession, and have been jack-rabbiting between euphoric leaps of über-confidence and bone-crushing impacts of complete despair. The fact is, even though I know how to edit and proofread, I still have much to learn–it’s why I’m shooting for a junior position and not expecting to swan into a job as an editor.

The massive amount of information I’ve been ingesting–reading, studying, taking tests to improve my skills and technique–has set my brain on fire. Sleep comes only with assistance, and lasts only until about 4 A.M., when my brain wakes up again, my inner vision spattered with blood-red proofreader marks and my heart hammering in panic. I try to clear my eyes, blinking away excerpts from the Chicago Manual of Style and swatting at ill-formed sentences hanging in the air above my head.

Worse, it’s affected my waking life.

No longer can I walk down the street, take the bus, or read the paper in peace. Now, every written word is a challenge, a test, and here’s the worst part:

There are mistakes everywhere.

I can’t not see them, now. Grammatical errors, spelling errors, then vs. than, rogue apostrophes and quote marks. Every-frakking-where.

Monday, I watched a training video for work. Not having audio, I turned on the closed-captioning. It took me half again as long to complete the damned thing because I spent so much time mentally correcting the errors in the text as it scrolled past.

I presume that professionals either become inured to the effects of these mistakes, or learn how to switch it off. For me, though, right now, it’s a constant barrage of misshapen sentences, Caliban-content cavorting around me, just beyond the reach of my red pencil, taunting me, testing me.

Some days, some hours, I know I can do this job and love it, too, but when that roller-coaster tips over the edge and I see just how deep the chasm is, it’s petrifying.

k

Typewriter

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Dragons AheadI used to love programming but it’s changed so much in the past 25 years, I can’t stand it anymore. When I only stay at a job for the salary and the time off, when I hate everything about what I do, when I wake up at 4AM with my heart pounding because my brain is preparing me for the day’s fight with a surge of adrenaline, it’s definitely time to go.

But, as I posed it in the previous post in this series, what career to I pick instead?

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Dragons AheadYour reactions to Part I landed in one of two camps: Most readers remembered fondly their own youthful creativity when funds were thin, while a few wondered why the hell I’d even contemplate this at all.

I enjoyed the anecdotes you shared, and it reinforced my belief that being short of cash when young is a good thing; it helps us appreciate things more and teaches us skills we need later. As for why I’m considering this at all, well, that’s the subject of this installment.

Why be poor, if I don’t have to?

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Dragons AheadI know from poor. Not poverty–I’ve never known poverty–but I know what it is to be poor.

As a music major at SF State, I earned money playing orchestra and quartet gigs, worked minimum wage jobs, but still didn’t have much by way of money. To supplement my meager budget, I used to go around the back of United Market in San Rafael and pick fruit and veg out of the dumpsters. The produce manager was kind enough to turn a blind eye to my forays, occasionally even handing me old orange crates to pack up my booty. Beans and rice were the mainstays of my diet (I was a vegetarian, then), and any extra money I was able to cadge went to new strings for my viola and gas money for friends taking me to symphony gigs in Stockton or Santa Rosa. (more…)

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