What Does Your Writing Need?

The Seed: Hire me to edit and proofread your work!

The Sprout: If you’re struggling to extend or shorten a piece for publication, need proofreading, copyediting, developmental and/or structural assistance, or could just use a good brainstorming session to breathe new life into an old piece—contact me. I’m skilled at working in a variety of genres, from journal articles and academic book chapters, to dissertations and MA theses, to nonfiction and fiction pieces.

The Forest

My first deep dive into the inner workings of a soon-to-be-published text happened when I fact-checked Lennard Davis’s Obsession: A History in 2008. I was the lone MA student in Davis’s Discourse, Culture, Mind seminar and volunteered to fact-check his book for two reasons:

(1) I wanted to impress this professor who had recently called out a PhD student for not knowing the Greek history of the marathon (the student had casually asked how long the professor’s upcoming race in California would be) and

(2) because the task was introduced as an opportunity to get deeper into a text than we’d ever gotten before.

In case you were wondering, I did an extremely thorough job—chasing down errant citations, adjusting chronologies, verifying names, places, and other details—but my efforts didn’t seem to impress the professor. In grad school, excellence is expected.

He was right about #2, though, and it made not achieving #1 not only bearable but insignificant.

When I rolled up my sleeves and jumped into the pages of his manuscript, I learned about obsession in a way that felt internal—like I was intimately acquainted with the subject in a way that I hadn’t experienced before as a reader.

Beginning in 2009, I began to copyedit journal articles and book chapters for members of the Criminology, Law, and Justice faculty at UIC. In subsequent years, I edited a number of dissertations and advised on MA Capstone papers. Along the way, I realized that editing was one of my favorite ways to re-read. Sure, I was helping my mentors and peers, but I was also learning how to deepen my analytical skills and attention to detail.

The more work I edited, the more confident I grew.

Today, I can tell you without reserve that I love the often-messy process of editing. I enjoy working with authors—helping them peel away what’s unnecessary to find the true direction of their work. My work often involves strategizing with writers to help them expand or update a piece. Often, the structure is the only thing preventing a piece from achieving its aims.

Since moving Portland, I’ve been welcomed into a neighborhood writing group for people of all skill levels working in a variety of genres and a monthly group of people working on novels and short stories intended for publication. Hearing people read their creative work aloud has inspired me to think outside the box when considering academic writing. I also see a future in editing creative work.

As someone who has written in a variety of genres (poetry, nonfiction, short fiction, performance ethnography, journal articles, book chapters, and a dissertation), I bring my creative eye to the editing process. I don’t see the work as merely fixing typos, improving flow, and reorganizing A and B. Rather, when I first read a piece, I’m looking for what I can only describe as the “soul” of the piece.

What does this text want to be? How can I help it achieve those aims?

The rest of the work certainly isn’t easy, but when I have an understanding of what the piece in front of me seems to want to be, I move forward with the idea of shaping and trimming, adding here, pinching there, getting everything into the correct form. In fact, I imagine the process as I would a reductive sculpture. I’m no artist, but when I work with a manuscript, I honor the author’s original intent by shaping the text, remaining sensitive to those elements that make the piece uniquely the author’s own work.

Over the past week, I edited a number of texts that were extremely different from one another; I moved from personal essay to dissertation to book chapter. It was exciting to work with these researcher/authors so close to the completion of their projects and publication of their texts.

As writers, we can feel so immersed in our own work that knowing what to cut or add or adjust can often feel impossible. That’s where I come in—when I suggest that a paragraph from page 23 would actually work better on page 7—it’s something that I probably wouldn’t be able to see so easily in my own work. Because I’m an impartial observer as well as someone who has been writing and editing for years, it’s easier for me to spot.

So, if you’re looking for some assistance shaping a piece or just need someone to fine-tooth-comb your work for typos and those grammatical errors that always slip through, hit me up.

I generally charge by the hour, but can also negotiate a project rate. Because I’m a sweetheart, I have a sliding scale for graduate students, early career people, and creative writers.

aristide
Aristide Maillol, Enchained Action 1906. I have always loved this piece.

 

Resources

Davis, Lennard (2008). Obsession: A History. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

My Professional Editing Site

My CV

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