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I am an editor at the University of California Press and author of the first full-length handbook ever published on the subject of developmental editing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Sprinting Personality Turns Out to Be Perfect for the Type of DE I Do

Entry 4: November 21, 2009

By Christine

I started working in publishing out of college, first as a sales rep, then as an acquisitions editor. I worked in-house until my husband finished grad school and got his first job in Spain. It had never occurred to me to try the “other” editor jobs; in my company it all seemed very clear who was cut out for what. The developmental editors I worked with were very calm, thorough, steady people and I tend more towards high energy for short sprints.

Our plan had been to stay in Spain for one year and that I would not work, but it was quite boring and lonely, so I started teaching English. One of my students worked at an EU organization and hired me to be on site 2 hours a day to edit the speeches and essays and articles her staff was responsible for preparing. They all spoke English, but as a second (or third, or fourth) language, and everything they produced had to be written in English. This morphed into more editing work, and then one day a friend of mine who is a professor in the US asked me to edit a chapter she was writing for a book. She then recommended me to another friend, and from there my business was born.

My high-energy sprinting personality turns out to be perfect for the type of developmental editing I do because it seems everything arrives a week before the deadline. I suppose I am not a traditional DE as I get things long after they should have been organized. I am like a hired gun DE, taking something complexly academic, convoluted, and generally written by a non-native English speaker and turning it into something readable, understandable, and compelling.

I love the work. Things are constantly new. I learn about all sorts of things: translation of literature from Persian, cultural politics, the sociology of the Lebanese in Mexico, the history of aerospace technology in Spain. I work on theses, dissertations, articles, essays, and book manuscripts and the occasional business document or presentation. I have three little children and can work around their schedules. I have to be very organized to get it all done but I like being busy and the people I work with are also extremely pressed for time, so there is a sense of collegiality though I do all my work over the internet.

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