This month, we sat down with Chief Editor Marni C, a meticulous editor with an eye for accuracy.
Q: How did you get your start freelancing?
A: I started freelancing after being laid off from the e-learning company where I had worked for more than 10 years as a managing editor. The division I had worked for developed continuing legal education courses.
Another division of the company was working on a big online sales training project for a major insurance company and needed some help in designing the courses, so I became a contractor.
Although the first couple of years were not very financially rewarding, as a parent, I found the flexibility of working from home and setting my own hours to be a major benefit.
Thanks to my contacts in the training industry and services such as WriterAccess, I am now able to work as much as I like these days.
Q: What attracted you to e-learning, or computer-based training, when you first started in the field?
A: I loved the interactivity of it and the ability to engage learners more fully through simulated experiences.
It’s a kick to design something and then see it functioning the way I envisioned — or not, in which case the challenge becomes how to redesign it so that it works better.
Q: How has education technology changed over the past 5 years? How does it continue to change?
A: Over the past five years, educational technology has become more mobile than ever. When I first started in the field, learning on a desktop computer was a novelty.
Now, it’s old hat. My 10-year-old’s school has Smart Boards in every classroom. The kids use laptops and tablets in school every day, for all sorts of different applications.
From an adult learning perspective, providing training and educational materials on an as-needed basis in small bites via mobile technology is the latest iteration of the educational technology wave.
Q: How are you able to manage your time when you have a lot on your plate?
A: Being a freelancer can sometimes be a feast-or-famine situation, so I am loath to turn down work, but sometimes it’s the only way to lead a balanced life.
As a mom with a school-age child, I prefer to keep my work to the hours when my son is in school, but when things are busy, I will also work while he does his homework, after he goes to sleep, or when he’s hanging out with his dad.
My husband is very supportive of my consulting business, and will often take my son out for some “guy time,” so I can put in a few needed hours of work on the weekend.
Q: As an editor, do you have a grammatical pet peeve that really bothers you?
A: Probably my biggest pet peeve is the use of “they” and “their” as singular pronouns.
I have heard and read all the arguments for this use, but it strikes me as lazy and it just sounds wrong to me, especially in formal business writing.
It is almost always possible to recast a sentence to eliminate the “need” for the singular “they,” and when you absolutely must use a singular pronoun, “he or she” is a little clunky but grammatically fine.
Q: Based on your experience, what is the most common writing mistake?
A: Hmm, that’s a toughie. There are so many! I see a lot of incomplete sentences and dangling modifiers. Another one that’s pretty common is lack of agreement in a series.
And a lot of people do not know how to punctuate properly. Using an apostrophe to make a plural is one of the most common — and annoying — punctuation errors that I see.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring editor just starting out?
A: Keep writing, let other people edit your work, and pay attention to their comments and corrections. I learned most of what I know as an editor by paying attention to how my own work was edited.
The other best piece of advice I have is to read, read, read. The more you read well-edited books, newspapers and magazines, the more you internalize good grammar and punctuation.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
A: I read a lot of fiction. Some of my favorite authors, in no particular order, are Anna Quindlen, Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Lisa Scottoline, Barbara Kingsolver, John Irving, Laurie R. King, John Grisham, Connie Willis, and Suzanne Brockmann.
Chief Editor Marni C joined WriterAccess in 2011 and has since completed over 3,600 projects on the platform.
Her focus is on education and health sciences, with expertise in e-learning, health care, writing, publishing, and technical material.
Marni has a master’s degree in educational communication and technology from New York University and a dual bachelor’s degree in public relations and psychology from Syracuse University.
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