howdoienglish











{July 20, 2011}  

It must be in my blood: I loved taking a field trip to Frederic Printing. Watching all of the machines suck down paper at incredible rates and seeing the finished (well, almost finished) product come out the other end was exhilarating. I walked around that whole place with my mouth open, staring shamelessly at everything pointed out to us and some things that weren’t.

In Dallas, my dad’s mom’s side of the family owns a printing company. I’ve toured it a couple times, but it’s been years since I was there and I don’t remember to much about it. I do have notepads from my visits, though, lots and lots of notepads with “Millet the Printer” on the bottom of the page. I’m sure this influenced my decision to go into publishing in some way. Some small nut in my brain started turning when I toured my family’s company and hatched, ‘scuse me, cracked, later on down the road after I beat it with enough books.

Along with the printing field trip (a newly added field trip at the Institute, and I’m glad they added it when I got there!), Monday had the design workshop. A graphic designer, from Fort Collins even (!), came in and showed us a little bit of the process from book jacket idea to finished jacket. She talked about what the editor likes and what she likes, how they differ, and what she does to resolve that. She even spoke a little about magazine design and how she redesigned Women’s Adventure when the old designer left. I would have liked to see a demonstration of how she works with the software to create a cover, but I understand that it would have taken way more time than we had to give her.

Monday also featured a lecture on digital production. Though filled with fascinating content (I’m sure it was), the presenter just couldn’t get my attention. He talked about how a digital product is made, specifically reference books like encyclopedias since that’s what his company does, the steps it goes through from concept to finished digital product. Though I should have figured it by now, it depressed me to learn that a lot of the work that goes into a product like that is outsourced. They have offshore full-service vendors they send their products to to be edited and worked on because it’s cheaper. I think they make enough money that they don’t need to worry about that, but then again, I’m not their accountant.

Monday night was baseball night. I went to Coors Field with seventeen other people, sat up in the third deck and cheered the Rockies on to a sad defeat. But it was fun, I talked with some people I haven’t talked to yet, and had a wonderful sense of pride because I’ve spent most of my life around here and could direct everyone from the light rail to the field. I was asked by several people who to root for on the Rockies. I felt like a sort of expert. (Thank you, sweetie.)

Tuesday was a good day. Not really because I completely enjoyed the presentations (which I didn’t). Though I find it a little sad when I don’t enjoy a presentation, either because the speaker isn’t a good speaker or because the presentation is on something I’ve no interest in, it’s also somewhat of a good thing. Lectures I’m not interested in give me another filter for when I’m exploring the world of job hunting. I’m narrowing down what I’d be interested in doing later in life. I had an idea when I came to the Institute, but I opened up my options when I started here and now I’m closing them down again. I’m also learning a whole lot about the publishing industry, even through those presentations that aren’t quite riveting. It’s a good thing.

I was able to read a little in one of my fun books and watch a movie with my mom and sister Tuesday night. Those are rare occurrences, and I’m quite happy I was able to swing that. Huzzah for homework that doesn’t take five hours.

And now I head to another fun-filled day.

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{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.



et cetera