Good morning (or afternoon, depending on when you’re stopping by). This month we’re welcoming back Susan K. Stewart from Practical Inspirations. She provided a guest post in January, but this month she’s giving us a little more insight into her life as a professional editor.
Welcome back, and thanks to agreeing to be here. To get started, when did you start writing/editing professionally?
I started writing professionally while in high school (more years ago than one wants to admit). I worked for a local daily and wrote one-paragraph fillers. Eventually I worked my way up to attending city council meetings so I could take notes, and a “real” reporter would write the article. The most fun I had with that job were my regular duties in the sports department Friday and Saturday. That was during the time when a woman in sports reporting was unheard of (sacrilegious in some minds). Phones calls would go like this:
ME: Sports department.
CALLER: Uhhhh … can you connect me with the sports department?
ME: This is the sports department.
CALLER: Uhhh … can you ask someone the scores for the games?
ME: GHS 21, LHS 15 – SHS 12, BHS 6 …
It was always tempting to say “No, I can’t ask anyone.”
I began editing about twenty years ago as a favor for a friend. The editor for her publication was ill and she need to get the magazine out. Less than a year later, I had the position.
Why did you want to be a freelance writer/editor?
I know it sounds trite, but I can’t not write. It is my first calling. I was one of the students that others hated because I enjoyed writing reports and term papers. English composition was a favorite class. It is the method God uses my gift of teaching.
I often quip that I edit to support my hobby of writing. God actually led me to editing, not just for income, but also for learning. I have become a better writer because of my experience editing. I enjoy the process and the learning, but it isn’t my first gift.
I began freelancing because I homeschooled. It was perfect to stay home, use my gifts, and earn some income we needed at the time. It still works for me.
What’s your specialty/focus? Why/how did you pick this?
I edit and write non-fiction. I write in three specific areas: homeschooling, mental illness in the family, and being prepared. All of these fall under the general term of family. I also write about e-publishing, but it’s not my main focus.
Homeschooling publications have been the focus of my editing. I edit books, stories, magazines, and so on.
About three years ago, after going through the process of publishing an e-book, I found that many writers are afraid of formatting an e-book because it seems so technical. I developed two classes, “Introduction to e-Publishing” and “Creating and Formatting an e-Book.” I teach both of these classes for the Christian PEN. From this experience, I’ve started e-editing. That is going through a manuscript to see that it is ready for uploading and converting to an e-book.
What’s your favorite part of this kind of work?
Research. I can research a subject to death. I also enjoy helping people with practical everyday solutions.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome during your career?
Me. I procrastinate. I’m a perfectionist. I lacked confidence in my gifts. Cecil Murphey helped me have confidence in the gift God has given me and procrastination and perfectionism were excuses. He taught me to be kind to myself.
What’s surprised you the most during your career?
I was surprised to learn that best-selling authors have the same insecurities as I do. They go through the same blocks and make similar mistakes that I make.
If you could give a new freelance writer/editor one piece of advice, what would it be?
This was given to me years ago (and I wish I could remember who said it): quit reading about writing, quit going to conferences about writing, quit taking classes on writing – write.
If you could do one thing differently in your career, what would it be?
This is a tough question. I believe every hurdle I’ve had have brought me to where I’m at now. Each step has been good for me and my career.
What’s your favorite kind of work? Why?
I like writing and speaking about how-to. This doesn’t always mean step-by-step. How-to can be encouraging when someone is stuck and needs to know someone else has traveled the path and lived to tell about it.
What does your work space/office look like?
Piles. I love my piles. I have piles of books, piles of files, and piles of paperclips. I amaze my husband that I can find anything. There are shelves and file cabinets for the piles I don’t need at the moment.
What is your go-to snack when working?
Oh dear, do I have to confess? Although I want to head straight for the chocolate sometimes, I try to stick to protein snacks – cheese sticks, boiled eggs, protein bars. I also love to grab a few baby carrots now and then.
Excluding the CMOS (that’s a given) what one editing resource would you recommend? Why?
No writer or editor should be without Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. I still go through it once a year to remind myself of simple and concise writing practices.
If you could only recommend one writing resource, what would it be? Why?
Pen and paper. I don’t write in longhand any longer, but I do keep pen and paper handy for ideas. It’s always there; it always works. I also edit with paper and pen.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
You can find me online at www.practicalinspirations.com.
Thank you so much for appearing on my blog. Have a blessed day!