Editing's Siren Call
I have been freelancing for a couple of years now. It started while I was working my last job, the job I loved the most of all I have had in my life thus far. But it was also the job I saw slipping away in the last few years as the climate changed to something I no longer saw myself thriving in. So I was blessed to have a friend I worked with in that job but distantly to ask me to help her with a potential job she was taking on. It grew from there.
Since I left my beloved job, I have come back to the thought I had years ago when I started Village Works with Ramona and we dreamed of running our business full-time. The problem was we had jobs we loved already and it wasn't easy to think of not doing them. She is still in hers. I have since moved on to a place with wonderful, supportive people. But I am 46 now. I told myself in my 20s that I wanted to become a life coach when I hit 50. My first child has one more year until college, my second is in high school next year. My husband has about two more years as a corrections officer until he is eligible for retirement, should he choose. It is simply time.
So On-Call Editing was conceived maybe two years ago, but I didn't name it - and claim it - until last year, in 2016. In claiming it, I had to think about who I wanted to help. It's called your "target market," in business speak, but that sounds so violent, doesn't it? Who do I want to target? Like a terrorist or something? No, for me the question was who do I want to serve. Because that is what I do. I am a helper. It is one of my spiritual gifts and I love doing it - even for free, as I have been offering on Twitter this month. So who did I want to help with my editing skills? And since I want to also become a life coach, do I see myself continuing to help in that way once I became certified?
I vacillate on that one a lot. It's one of those things that I think, "Yeah. This is something I can do and like to do, so surely it can be a sustainable business for me." But how do I reach the people I want to serve? That's the hard part and the thing my mastermind group will hopefully be able to help me with soon. I do have these moments though when I realize, yes, yes. This is what I love and I won't let it go, even when I learn the coaching skills and start to help people in that way.
Last night, for instance. A Twitter friend sent someone my way whom she had helped. That client needed someone to read a post for her that she had put on LinkedIn. Doing that for her gave me a lot of joy because editing is very much like the puzzles we create. You have to see the big picture, then go back in to make things fit and flow so that big picture comes out as it should. I mean who likes a puzzle with even one missing piece? No matter how beautiful the picture, you won't be able to help staring at the place where the missing piece should be or where something clearly went awry.
When I was done editing that post for her, as tired as I had been because Friday nights can be that way, I felt that giddiness you get when something comes together just right and you're just so happy about it. Whenever I help people for whom writing is not their focus - it's a necessity, but they're focus is on the topic at hand more than the written piece that conveys it - I feel blessed. Because I like it. No, I love it. And that always makes me smile because I had always thought about becoming a writer when I was younger. I had no idea the world of editing even existed then and I could do both. But it was a perfect fit when I found out, a way into the writing I wanted to do, and I grew to love it.
I love wondering if that comma is supposed to be there and figuring out if this is the one time when you can say "meanwhile." I am constantly researching to make sure I am correct in my reasoning so I can explain my edits to the writer (it's easy to know something should be changed, it's not also easy explaining it to others). I try to help them avoid that issue in the future - or not. Doesn't matter. That's why they have me.
This weekend, I have been working on the final edits for one friend's book, being one of a few pairs of eyes she's had on it, and I have been helping to launch the writing career of a friend who never saw herself writing a book before but she certainly has a story the world should hear. (That friend being the same Ramona with whom I have been working on projects like this for years already.) Talking with a new friend who will be helping with the process, we made the vision clear and the process too so that Ramona left that conversation feeling like I was right! She CAN do this! lol! I love that. She asked me what she could pay me and I told her she could pay me in a testimonial because you see, this is fun for me. I just want to see it happen. And finally convincing her this is worth writing about and figuring out how (my word, it really can be simple, y'all), and figuring out when - It's exciting stuff!
After all that , I am once again invigorated by the whole writing process as I tend to be after I do some work for someone. More importantly, I am invigorated by the process of helping someone who doesn't live in this world like I do, shining a light on what's within her and putting that down on paper. This isn't just writing to me. This is about enhancing the writer. After all, writing is art and art is personal. When a person writes, they are sharing a piece of themselves with the world and you never know how the world will handle it. But it doesn't matter. You still want to share because it's as good for you as it can be for the world. Being a part of that is simply a thrill. My desire to do so just means this is a calling and I'm glad I answered it.
I am still going to become a life coach. That is something I also feel called to do, but I look forward to using those newfound skills to help my future clients even more to discover what is in them and make sure they say it grammatically and with the proper punctuation. Period.