The Life of an Editor: Not All Glory!

My main job is editing manuscripts for an online publisher. I work hard at it, much harder than I did when I was bookkeeping, and it’s harder than serving as property manager for my boss. I start first thing in the morning, sometimes even before I’ve had breakfast. Depending on the state of the manuscript I’ve been given, I edit anywhere from ten thousand to fifty thousand words in a day. My day can last anywhere from six hours to sixteen.

Whipping through fifty thousand words in a day is rare. I can do this with AJ’s manuscripts, because he self-edits and is a good writer. Not every manuscript accepted by the publisher is that good. Some need a lot more polish than that.

Editing is difficult, time-intensive, brain-crushing work. You know how, in a regular job, you can fuck off a lot through the day? Play solitaire, surf the ‘net, surreptitiously work on your own stuff? Can’t do that with editing. You have to focus every second of every minute so you don’t miss anything, and even then, you know you’re going to miss something. It’s the nature of the beast. 

I’ve never worked harder at a job! Editing is so demanding, I sometimes want to tear my hair out and throw it at AJ.

BUT… and there is a big BUT… I work at home. I can wear anything I like or nothing at all. If I have a doctor or dentist appointment, I can go there and no boss will make me take PTO. If I have a bad night where I’m up tossing and turning, only to fall asleep at dawn, I can start work when I get up, even it that’s at ten or eleven in the morning. I can work at midnight. I can take days off if I need to (this last bit isn’t so good, because if I don’t work, I don’t make money).

Winter in Minnesota is usually long and cold and so shitty, the residents go to Florida for the duration if they can afford it. Working at home means I never have to commute. I can work in bed. I can have music blasting in my ears. I can put plugs in my ears and enjoy total silence.

Oh, and here’s a big thing: I don’t have to answer a ringing phone! I hate answering phones. I’ve always sought jobs where that wasn’t a requirement. While I am a very nice person, I hate having to be cheerful on command.

Is working at home for everyone? Nope. I am currently without health insurance. I don’t get paid for holidays and vacations are on my dime. Also, being a freelance worker, no taxes are taken out of my paychecks. I have to set money aside so there’s something to give an eternally greedy government. However, this afternoon, I took off on the scooter for a couple of hours, just because the weather was so very fine, and no one was frowning at me and marking down my absence. My schedule is my own, and I only get paid if I do the work, so I make sure I do the work, even if that means putting in much longer days than most people do.

I’m single and healthy. I can get away with this for now. Also, I get the job done. Not all people are self-motivated enough to complete their tasks unless someone is standing over them with a whip.

So before you decide being an editor/working at home is a good thing, ask yourself some tough questions and really listen to your answers. It’s not for everyone, but often, it’s the best position to be in. :)

About Theo Fenraven

Theo Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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4 Responses to The Life of an Editor: Not All Glory!

  1. AJ Rose says:

    I couldn’t do it. I have to see people on a daily basis. Otherwise, I’ll find a clock tower.

    Not that I particularly like people… Heh.

    • That’s one of the differences between us. I can happily vanish into writing or work for hours, even days, and though that can make me cranky, I’m good with it. You, on the other hand, need more people contact than I do, hence your job at a bar of all places.

      Works out though. By the time you get home, you’re sick of them. We can be quiet together.

  2. Hi Theo, Heather Atkins recommended that I contact you. I’m looking for an editor for my 83,000 word manuscript and I’m wondering if I could get an idea of how you work and if you have time to take on a project. Thanks! Georgina Young-Ellis gina@ltbprod.com

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