We are on a mission to get to know our talent better. This week we caught up with Junior Editor Sherry H, seasoned proofreader with a love of literature and a soft spot for great TV.
Q: How did you get your start in the editing profession?
A: It’s one of those things you can do with a master’s in English. I had fully intended to complete my Ph.D. and teach English on the university level. I had completed most of the classwork and even had my dissertation topic approved…. then I started teaching at local community colleges while still in college. I got so tired of telling every incoming class that “a lot” is two words that I couldn’t imagine doing that the rest of my life, and even tenured professors usually teach at least one composition class a semester.
It’s weird to me, though, because I majored in English for the literature. Grammar and punctuation are like the parts of the engine of a beautiful automobile, necessary but not necessarily fascinating! But teaching has really helped me learn so much more about writing. I still occasionally teach composition at a local college, but I went into Teaching English as a Second Language and got certified in it. Non-native speakers’ writing is endlessly varied and interesting.
Q: Which subject matter topics do you enjoy editing the most?
A: Literary topics, obvi! But I actually enjoy helping make any piece of writing read better, no matter what the topic. It appeals to my analytic side.
Q: Based on your experience, what is the most common writing mistake?
A: Many writers don’t seem to know or use the particular style guide that the pub or website likes/wants.
Q: What do you believe to be the most common misconception regarding editing/editors?
A: I was told once that I just loved to point out people’s mistakes, but that’s not true at all. I just like a piece of writing to flow in a lovely manner and be error-free. It’s nothing personal at all.
Q: How are you able to manage your time when you have a lot on your plate?
A: Prioritize and not get seduced by the hypnotic world wide web of distraction. I had to learn to prioritize; I have a full-time job at a local advertising agency and freelance on the side.
Q: As an editor, do you have a grammatical pet peeve that really bothers you?
A: “There is/there are” phrases can get really wordy and result in a lot of passive voice, and some writers are overly reliant on them. And so often the sentence can be tweaked just slightly to recast it.
But it’s so difficult, if not impossible, to be objective about your own writing. I have to proofread my own Post-it notes, and I find errors all the time!
I admire writers, any writer. I’m not very creative, so it’s something I don’t enjoy. I am in awe of writers who can crank out copy about any topic. I do not see how they do it. Plus, as an editor / proofreader, I’m indebted to them for my own job!
Q: What’s your approach to giving constructive feedback to a writer?
A: You have to point out the positive, and you can always find positives.
Q: How has technology altered the way editors approach their work?
A: Most of us work on-screen or online. I actually prefer it to the old way of marking up hard copy. But technology has also created an entire set of new proofreading errors that I hate, such as apostrophes and quotation marks not converted to the font; instead; they’re just a simple straight word processing tic mark that’s so ugly. They are conversion problems, actually, when a word processing program’s copy is flowed into a design program.
Q: Besides editing, how do you like to spend your time?
A: I love to binge-watch shows such as “Stranger Things” or the older ones like “The Wire.” I also love a good British detective/mystery. And I really like NFL football.
Junior Editor Sherry H. joined WriterAccess in 2016 and has completed nearly 3,000 projects on our platform. As an editor, she prides herself on her ability to work in nearly any industry or genre. Sherry has a Masters in English and is certified for Teaching English as a Second Language.