howdoienglish











{July 18, 2011}   Catching up

See, the thing about this whole school business is I don’t have much time outside of it to do much of anything. Which is why this post is so late. To sum up:

Wednesday–My dislike of committees was deepened just a little more. The second half of this day was devoted to university presses and scholarly publishing. We’d been given two proposals to read before coming to class and got funneled into groups after a short lecture to go discuss whether or not we, as a university press editorial board, would acquire the manuscript. The unfortunate thing about most committees, I’ve found, is the distinct lack of multiple voices. A couple dominant personalities take over, interrupt others, and generally steer the meeting toward the outcome they’d like to see. It may not be intentional, that might just be the way they are, but it’s frustrating for people like me, non-dominant personalities who then sit in the corner doodling in their notes.

On the bright side, university press publishing does sound somewhat interesting, and there’s one in Boulder, so that would be a job path that would keep me in Colorado. Which is, after all, what I’d really like.

The first half of Wednesday we had two lecturers, both freelance editors. Listening to them talk over the last few days, I’ve come to appreciate what an intense job editing really is. (Actually, I don’t think there’s a job in publishing that isn’t intense.) Being an editor means a lot of nights and weekends work because manuscript reading doesn’t occur during business hours. Though I think it would be fabulous to have that much to read and engage with, I think I’d also like some time to spend with the boyfriend.

Thursday–By this time, I was super excited that the two people I’d met earlier in the week were continuing to hang out with me. I walk into the lecture room at the beginning of the day and know that, if I’m the first one there, two other people will soon join me. I know it’s kind of sad, but it’s a huge accomplishment for me to have even two people to talk to because it means I went somewhat out of my way to talk to them, to interact with them, and they didn’t run away. I’m always afraid of people running away; it’s happened before.

On to Institute stuff. We had homework over Wednesday night, to edit and refine the reader’s report we should have written before arriving at the Institute. They gave guidelines on Wednesday, but it was still a difficult task. The goal of a reader’s report, if you haven’t heard of it, is to inform your boss the editor about the manuscript and offer a summary and an analysis of whether or not it should be published. As an associate editor in a publishing house, that seems like a lot of power. But big-time editors don’t have that much time to read every manuscript that gets submitted to the house, so they parcel out the reading to the associate editors who write these reports and turn them in. The report gives the editor an idea of if a particular manuscript has qualities that would make it a good candidate for publishing. The associate’s opinion isn’t always followed, and that’s how it should be, but apparently the advice gets followed 95% of the time (according to one of the editors doing the workshop). My report didn’t go over that well, but I got a good enough grade that I’m not super worried about passing.

Yeah, speaking of, I have to get a B average at the Institute to pass and get my certificate. So, no worries or anything: I made the Dean’s List last semester, I’m good. šŸ˜›

Also Thursday we were spoken to by two people in the college textbooks business. The best part of the lecture was the free books the first guy brought. I snagged one to give myself a brush up on grammar-type things. Overall, college textbook publishing doesn’t sound like a part of publishing that I’d be interested in going into. Though I thought that I wouldn’t know how to do anything but go to school since I’ve been doing that since age six, I’ve learned since graduating that that’s a completely false statement. In fact, being back in school is more tiring than working all day. So I don’t think IĀ  would enjoy a job so thoroughly based around academics. It was a good era, for the most part, but it’s time to move on, as frightening as that may seem sometimes.

And then we had to get into groups again, but this time after school hours. My group decided to meet at the “picnic” held after school got out for the day. Our task was to write a semblance of an editorial critique for the untitled manuscript we read and prepared the reader’s reports on before coming to Denver. I’m happy to say that this group behaved much better than the last and everyone’s opinion was valued and discussed among all group members. I went home exhausted.

Friday–This was one of the most interesting days so far. Our reader’s reports were handed back with more feedback, and someone from each group Thursday presented their group’s editorial critique of the manuscript. Then, get this, we got on the conference call with Clive Priddle, editorial director at Public Affairs. This is the house that acquired the manuscript we’d spend days, and weeks, poring over, and he answered questions and talked about the process the book has gone through. I’m excited about it and eager to see how much has changed from the manuscript form I saw it in to the finished product that will be on shelves soon. I can’t tell much about it because it’s still in the production process and confidential, but once the book comes out, I’ll be sure to feature it.

We got an introduction to line editing, which is kind of a fancy phrase for most of the type of editing I did in college. Correcting grammar and sentence structure, but also looking at the big picture and making sure everything makes sense where it is. Another assignment was given out, line editing a section of the first chapter of another book. I must admit, working on this edit was harder than I thought it would be. It’s easier when it’s my own work or a friend’s, because I know more of what’s allowed, but with an author I’d never heard of (because they put a pseudonym on the manuscript), I wasn’t sure where my boundaries lay. I’m not sure how to edit while keeping an author’s voice and style because that’s something I never did in school. I actually discussed this with a professor of mine, how students’ educations are lacking because they are not taught how to imitate another writer’s style. Though an incredibly hard exercise, I imagine, I can also see how this would greatly benefit the student. And now I have experience with a situation that may have been easier had I had that education, though I’m not sure what good that does me. I finished the assignment, but I’m really not sure how well I did. That and I was tired all the while I worked on it.

The last bit of Friday was a copyediting lecture. This, I thought, would be the best part of the Institute. And then I found, after listening to the first little bit, that I’ve heard this lecture before. I’d taken classes with the lecturer, the lovely Alice Levine, and though this one was slightly different, it was only a variation on a theme. I have all the materials she handed out somewhere in one of the boxes in my mother’s basement, and no new information was imparted to me. Following is what I wrote while listening:

“I begin to wonder if copyediting truly is the calling I believed it was throughout high school and college. I think I would feel lost if I hasn’t been at the Institute when I realized this. As it stands now, I’ve been exposed to several alternative careers. I have some of the compulsive tendencies that make a good copyeditor, but I also have the creative side that makes copyediting difficult. I may not have enough compulsion to properly copyedit.

“I suppose we’ll see as I go along in the Institute. As I learn more about grammar, that will help determine if this is a course I would want to pursue or not.

“Perhaps hearing this lecture for the second or third time is skewing my opinion…”

Yes, a crisis of career path. If you’d asked me anytime from maybe halfway through high school up until I entered the Institute, I would have told you that my dream was to be a freelance copyeditor. Now I’m not so sure. Like I said above though, this is the best place to be having a crisis like that. There are so many avenues open to me and I’ve only gone through one week of lectures. There’s no need to fret, I know this.

So now, after a nice weekend with my boyfriend and his family, I think I’m ready to head back to school. I’m also going to the Rockies game tomorrow night with a few other Institute people, so that’ll be an opportunity for me to meet some more people. And if I don’t meet people, well, I’m still at a Rockies game, so whatever! šŸ™‚

Maybe I won’t take so long next time to update. I imagine it’s tiring to read through this much; it’s tiring for me to write it.



{July 5, 2011}   Put a witty title here

Remember the Chicago Manual of Style? Turns out the readings for this large tome amount to almost the entire work. I looked in the table of contents, and I think we’re only skipping two or three of the chapters. Granted, each chapter amounts to a substantial chunk of the book and I’m grateful that we aren’t required to read the whole thing (though I probably will sometime later), but it’s still a lot of reading.

Thankfully, I’ve read the chapter on grammar, at least, in the 15th edition (Nerd alert), so it won’t really have changed. It’s always good to go back and get a refresher on all those things, though.

I like to blame some of my ineptness with grammar on the fact that I never diagrammed sentences when I was in elementary or middle school. It’s just an easy target. To remedy this, both for the Institute and for the rest of my life as I hope to deal with grammar for a good long portion of it, I have requested a book from my public library, Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: the quirky history and lost art of diagramming sentences by Kitty Burns Florey. I found it when I was looking through some of those publishing newsletters I’m subscribed to and put it on my list of books that might be worth reading. It’s on its way, and I should get a call when it’s ready.

I’m looking forward to it; I might even bump that book up to the top of my “read for fun” list. Currently on that list is Brian Jacques entire Redwall series. I’m terribly behind (I was racing my sister) at The Bellmaker. I try to read a chapter or two a night, but that’s a rather slow pace. Thanks, DPI, for all the homework!

I jest. I’m actually quite enjoying these advance assignments from the Institute. Speaking of…I need to get a system going for the last few days, here! The time is almost upon me, and I still have a good bit to do. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a schedule of what I need to do.



{June 17, 2011}   Manuals, Chicago style

In preparation for the Publishing Institute, I need to read most of the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. Of course we have to read the 16th, I thought, can’t use the 15th, the one I already have. The one I bought not too long ago thinking it would be with me forever (even though I really knew better, even at the time).

In a serious blindness on my part, I hadn’t known that Chicago published the 16th edition until my boss at my internship gave me her Chicago online login and informed me that the 16th edition was on there, but for now we’d go with what we already had on our style sheet, which was 15th edition. I wondered how much could actually changed in order for Chicago to feel they had to put out a new edition. I’m tempted to examine the 15th and 16th side by side, now that I have both.

Back to reading for the Institute. It’s basically the entire manual, really. Only a couple hundred pages of the behemoth book are being left out. And it makes me wonder how much of what is in that book I will actually know. How much of what I read will be a refresher of information I’ve already learned at some point in my education. I worry that I won’t know enough and I’ll have to scramble to memorize enough of everything so I appear competent when I arrive in Denver.

It’s frightening. Intimidating. And it’s moments like this when I feel so, so small.



{June 15, 2011}  

I needed a WordPress account in order to be added as a user to the blog I set up for the press I work at. So I decided, why not, I’ll create my own blog. Maybe I’ll even use it, too. I’ve never kept up with a blog for very long, unless it was a journal-type blog where I ranted about feelings and opinions for pages.

An English blog felt new, different, something that would be unique and thus worth continuing. I’ve looked through numerous book blogs over the course of my employment with this small press, and they all look about the same, reviewing books sent them by publishers (me included) and talking of bookish things.

I don’t know much about the publishing industry, the industry I would absolutely love to spend the rest of my life slumming around in. It worries me sometimes, worries me because what if I am completely unprepared to float in a large publishing company? What if I don’t know what I need to know?

This blog is my way of chronicling new English oddities I learn. Maybe other people are as clueless as I am about some of these particularities. I’d like this blog to become a public forum of sorts, a place for people to discuss the English language. I want to research into the English language, find out why English is as strange as it is and let people know. I majored in English, so if I don’t know, it’s likely others don’t as well. I work with a publishing company, and escapades with that will be related through the blog as well.

In general, this will be an English space, a place for anything relating to the language of English or the industry of publishing.

I’m excited. Let’s go.



et cetera