Category Archives: Commentary

How Do I Become a Freelancer? A Grossly Incomplete Overview

In a few hours, I will be a guest in an editing and publishing class at Western Washington University, where I earned both my undergrad and graduate degrees and more or less got my writing and editing career started. Somehow, I am now considered some kind of authority and get to talk about how I’ve managed to fumble my way through a career as a wordsmith. Trust me, I like the feeling. But I’m just confused as to when people started asking for my advice on things.

I think the biggest part of getting started down the freelancer’s path is knowing where to start—and what things to consider. So, in preparation for my presentation, I figured I might as well give a brief scattershot of how I began, and how I sustain, this little career I’ve carved out.

These are my thoughts. They’re far from comprehensive, but hopefully somebody happening upon this site might learn a thing or two in the process. So let’s get to it. Continue reading

The Business of Editing: The Demand for Perfection

I love this article. The debate around error-free manuscripts is an interesting one, and not unlike a game of Pitfall. What this editor wisely points to, in the quest for perfection, is managing expectations. The ages-old adage, “You get what you pay for” rings especially true for editors working for budget- or timeline-conscious clients.

An American Editor

In a LinkedIn group, there has been a discussion about errors that are missed by editors. The discussion is a great illustration of the disconnect between reasonable and unreasonable expectations in editing.

On the one hand, you have an author who admits his manuscript is far from perfect and who expects the editor to make it error-free or keep working on it at the editor’s expense until the manuscript is error-free. On the other hand, you have editors who offer a broad range for what constitutes an acceptable number of errors. The discussion began with the question, “How many errors is it acceptable for an editor to miss in a 200-page manuscript?” The answers ranged from zero to (you pick a number).

Needless to say, there was a gap that could not be bridged. Authors (and some editors — usually editors who were also authors) remained steadfast in the belief that…

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A Post in Which I Rank the Star Trek Movies and Offer a Silly Clip Show.

A couple years ago, I went on Netflix rampage, watching every episode of every Star Trek series (even the animated series)  in consecutive order. It was a crazy thing to do, and it took me well over a year to complete it.

With Into Darkness just about finishing up its theater run, I thought it would be fun to rank the films. I also took a little inspiration from my friend Diane’s FoliosNFlicks post on the franchise. I don’t think many will  find my list that surprising, and I’m sure some people will disagree with me on certain points. That’s fine. Those are always fun conversations.

So, here they are, from worst to best.

Continue reading

Edmunson Goads, The World Shrugs

I thought I’d stay out of the the whole “Poetry Slam” non-controversy stirred up by one Mark Edmunson in Harper’s. My thinking when everyone got up in arms was, “Don’t you recognize a goad when you see one?” But then I read “An Open Letter to Mark Edmunson”, and I thought to myself that if there is one good thing to come out of silly, silly ignorance, it’s that we are afforded a moment to clarify our own positions and learn not to take them for granted. I highly recommend reading this post.