Qualification to be an editor: um, I like reading?

A year ago, I was at the point that I was having to turn down editing projects because I simply didn’t have the time to take on anything else. Rather than turn away work, I thought it would make sense, financially and professionally, to start outsourcing certain projects. I advertised on various email lists in Israel, and I was stunned to receive in my Inbox no less than 100 resumes. I don’t believe that my list of requirements was too unreasonable: I required an English-language editor with a strong background in Jewish studies, and at least three years’ experience in the field. My first thought was, “Wow, there are THIS many English-language editors with over three years’ experience in editing in Israel?” It struck me as I read through some of the resumes that many applicants (erroneously) thought they were suitable for the job simply because, “I have always loved reading,” “When I worked as a medical secretary, I would often have to read and write letters,” “As part of my job as a sales assistant, I had to write out orders”…. you get my drift.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that you can’t study editing in university – there is no degree in the subject – and sometimes you either have it, or you don’t. I certainly didn’t enter the profession with any particular qualification in editing, and sometimes it is just a case of possessing a sharp eye. However, I would never dare apply for a profession that is so clearly beyond my capabilities. You would never catch me applying for a job as a web designer because websites are made up of words, or a job in psychology because I deal with difficult clients on a daily basis.

You can’t blame them for trying, but still… you might want to consider whether you actually fulfill any of the requirements before applying for a job. I’m just saying…

Once an editor…

Welcome to Double Take! The problem with being an editor, and having an anal personality in general, is that you can never stop being…an editor. I recall countless blind dates, back in my single days, when I vowed that I would not point out to my date every ridiculous spelling mistake on the menu – and believe me, Jerusalem restaurants have their lion’s share of those! – but alas, I couldn’ t help myself. It would take me an hour to decide what to eat. This was not because I couldn’t decide on the dish, but rather the mental red pen was crossing out (Track Changes in Word is a lame substitute for the relentless and unforgiving red pen) each and every typo on the menu. Well, there is a happy ending – luckily I found someone who found this quality of mine to be amusing and even endearing, and after six weeks of dating, it was a done deal and we were engaged. So now he has to put up with my editorial observations on a daily basis.

As part of our engagement trip, we went to Disney World. My husband was extremely excited – as a child and teenager, he would travel to Disney World almost every winter, and now he was going to share with me the magic of Magic Kingdom. It was my first time in Disney World, and to be honest, I wasn’t convinced that it was going to be quite the magical experience for this British gal as it was for him, but to my credit, I was jumping up and down with excitement. If it meant something to him, it would mean something to me, too. Well, after 5 minutes of sitting on the train that took us into Magic Kingdom, I didn’t need to “act” anymore. I experienced Disney World in the same way that a toddler experiences his/her first taste of candy. I jumped up and down on the spot in order to be noticed and chosen by the magician. I was entranced. We entered the Hall of Presidents, which frankly bored me to tears (it’s hard enough to keep track of all the British Prime Ministers), and just when my husband thought that he had left the editor behind in Israel, and was traveling with his fun-loving fiance, I exclaimed upon noticing a typo on the board.

Once an editor, always an editor…..