A few years ago, I was working at W24, I had a column with W24, News24, New Age Gaming, and I had this blog, and I was writing and publishing articles pretty much every single day.
Honestly, nothing particularly dramatic. Writing was once a hobby, and, once it became a job, it turned into something both exhausting and emotionally draining. I enjoyed writing less and less, and, when I no longer had to rely on it for my bread and butter, when I no longer had to write, I just didn’t. I also realized I do not want to be a career journalist (? is that even the right word? I never was an actual journalist but it sounds better than career opinion-haver) – apart from everything else, my liver can’t take it.
Instead, I’ve been slowly but surely focussing on editing. My sister hired me to help her cut 30 000 words from her book (‘Something Pink’ – now published and absolutely wonderful) and it was one of the most challenging, but enjoyable experiences of my life. A writer’s book, especially their first book, is so precious to them. It’s like a baby. And there’s something magical about helping someone with their baby.
I’ve studied English Literature informally for years – ever since I got the highest marks in the country for my A Levels in English Literature (my one boast, and it’s such a weird one I never mention it. I mean apart from that bit where I mentioned it right this minute) and I’ve taught Literature for 10 years (I’m an English literature tutor for A level students), so while I have no formal training in editing, I do have a certain amount of experience and understanding. After my helping to edit my sister’s book, I found myself asking the question: Could I become an editor? A real one? In real life?
I wasn’t sure, but I started researching as much as I could. I asked everyone I knew in the writing industry for advice. I asked other editors for a glimpse at the work they do, so that I can get an idea of what would be expected of me. I joined both writing and editing groups. I bought ‘Self-Editing for Fiction Writers’ and read it twice. That book has little exercises at the end of every chapter. I did them all. I made reading about writing and editing part of my daily routine. I made reading a lot more in general part of my daily routine, because a good editor should be well read. The more I worked at it, the more certain I became that I could be a really good editor. But I also realized that, while I have both experience and talent in this field, I would still need some formal training.
Which is why I’m so excited to announce I’m getting it.
Next week, I begin a 10-week course in copy-editing. The course is offered by the University of Cape Town, and it comes highly recommended. I will learn both copy-editing and structural editing, as well as how to work as a professional editor or proofreader. The course ends in September, which means, starting from October, I will be ready to begin work as a really real, real-life editor! (Freelance – so please keep me in mind if you have a book that needs editing – and help me spread the word! My preferred genres are Fantasy, YA and Chick Lit.)
In other news, I actually am still writing, I’ve just been focussing more on fiction. I feel that a good editor should understand the writing process, so I haven’t just been studying editing, I’ve been studying writing as well. My favourite things in the world are the Brandon Sanderson Lectures, which I consider practically required viewing for anyone interested in fiction writing. My book is… well… it’s a first book. It’s not good. But maybe in ten years time I’ll be ready to publish ‘Farie Land’.
Just this week, I also actually wrote an article for New Age Gaming for the first time in ages. I’ve been playing a lot of World of Warcraft lately, and I just got access to the Battle for Azeroth Beta, which is amazing, but is also where something absolutely terrible happened to my class, so I wrote about that in an article called “One Beast Mastery Hunter’s pet hate with the World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth beta” and you can read that here. An excerpt:
When I finally got my own account, I had one goal and one goal only – Loque’nahak. The moment I reached the level where I could tame him, I started camping. My friend laughed at me and told me I should just focus on getting to max level, and worry about stupid pets later. I didn’t care. I’d wanted Loque from the first moment I saw him, and nothing else mattered. When I got him, it was one of the best days of my WoW life.
At one point, playing a BM Hunter was considered so ludicrous, I’d get kicked from or yelled at in dungeons. I’ve even had strangers whispering me in Orgrimmar to tell me how silly I was for playing BM when Survival (I think it was Survival) was so much better. At another point, BM Hunters were so OP we were sought out by guilds, and my own guild even got me to raid with them for awhile. Marksmanship has been the best spec. Survival has been the best spec. Beast Mastery has been the best spec. I’ve lived through being told I’m playing the most boring spec, the easiest spec, the best spec, the worst spec. I’ve never cared. I play a BMH for my pets. I always have.
Fast forward several years. Loque’nahak was no longer the pet that, when strangers saw you with him, they’d whisper you with an “OMG WHERE DID YOU GET THAT PET IT’S AMAZING”. Now, he was the pet almost every BM Hunter had, because we’re all special snowflakes who are also exactly the same together. I wanted to use other pets, but I always missed Loque and wound up switching back to him. Loque represented the reason why I played my class and spec. He represented days of camping. He represented the first big challenge I set for myself in WoW, and accomplishing that challenge. Loque mattered to me.
I am actually hoping to write a bit more about World of Warcraft in general. Now that I can treat writing like a hobby again, I’m filled with ideas. We’ll see how much NAG is willing to publish. If they get sick of me, I can always post my WoW thoughts here.
So anyway, that’s my news. (And yes, I realize the irony of me announcing my intention to become an editor in a post riddled with crimes against grammar – I’m going for an informal tone and it’s on purpose actually.) I’ve been working in Literature, writing, and editing in different ways for 10 years now, so it’s not a totally drastic career change, but my life is taking on a new direction – and with it, so will this blog. For a start, there’ll almost certainly be a post in October with my editing rates.
It’s funny. When I was a child, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said “professional reader”. And now it looks like that’s exactly what I’m going to do.