This is an ode to my frenemy. [I sure hope she doesn’t read this … but just in case she does, no hard feelings hun. I got madd respect for you. Madddd!] Also, kahenya, my inspiration, [and JustDes, his inspiration] for teaching me to curse politely. Muchos gracias.
So today I [re?]discovered that I’m not really an editor. It’s a [re]discovery that I make often. Usually when I have spent hours poring over a manuscript and handed it in to the boss, only for him to spot a missing full stop on page one.
Or when I have scanned a 250 page novel cover to cover, looking for a particular paragraph, then some genius comes and finds it right at the beginning of the book. Yeah, it happens.
[I should spend more time looking at my page one, yeah?]
Or even when my boss is explaining the difference between ‘en and em dashes’ and I’m thinking about some VOK advert that had kids in knitted cotton pulling KICC bougainvillea poses and screaming Dash!! Then, subsequently, my mind drifts to my favourite song by those Msenangu people, ‘Can you be my dash-dash!!’ What was that band called again?
Boss says I have a problem with consistency. No, that doesn’t mean I’m unreliable, it means I sometimes spell organize with an ‘s’ and sometimes I spell it with a ‘z’… in the same sentence. I don’t give a first-syllable-in-the-Coffee-shop-slash-sports-bar-opposite-Jubilee-Insurance about stuff like that, but editors are supposed to care, and my boss blows a gasket over colonary content like that. Yeah, that was a bit much. I like the sound of it though.
I watched a previous boss go on and on about a book called ‘Eats shoots and leaves’ that dissects punctuation. What the coitus? [I can say WTC instead, yeah?] Anyway, things like that don’t move me. When you’re an editor, they should move you from skirting board to ceiling.
So yeah, in moments like that, I expect to see a bulb light up over ze bosi’s head and scream male bovine excretory product, coz that’s largely my editorial career staple.
Oddly enough, I didn’t really like being called an editor till I saw the reaction it draws from peers. I studied Music and Literature in campus, and often got asked by the med and law students ‘Kwani you want to be a teacher?’ No offense to the teachren btw. So, when said lawyers and med-people now hear I am an editor and go all jaw-drop on me, well, it feels kinda nice. So yeah, I do generally put a little stress on the I’m an Editor, see me type. Rather sad to [re]discover that I’m really not.
Oh, and some pretty boy walked into the office juzi when I was bopping my head and banging my keyboard [no gutter implied] and said that I type like a journalist. Hehehe.
There are moments when I scream to leave my job coz I just don’t fit. But there are other moments when I’m so in the zone that I wonder why I‘m fighting my genes for jeans. I have just realized that it always [or is it only?] happens when I’m construing, when I’m cooking up stuff, when I’m pulling Master of Equestrian Rear Fallout. My job highs are never about editing, they’re all about creative.
First, let me explain editing. It’s not just about fixing typos and finding full stops. It’s about quality control. You make sure the sentences are the right length, the nuances have the right tone, the registers are at the right level, the market trends are included, the censors are inoffended [what. I like the way it sounds, so there].
When you are interviewed for an editorial job, you’ll be given a 6 year’s old story about a cow and asked to turn into legal jargon. Then you will be given a work contract with a million different fine prints and asked to translate it from lawyernese into kinderspeak.
When I was given that test, I threw around words like bovine, cow, gestation, maziwa lala and yoghurt in appropriate places. Nice, yes? When she was given the test, she drew a stick figure of a cow and coloured it. Yes, she got more brownie points.
We have worked together, lived together, and have had the same taste in men. Bad. I admire her, respect her and detest her in equal volumes. And today, she literally saved my life.
Here’s what happened. I got my first PJ. Yay! They paid in advance. Double yay!! I promised to deliver. Because I could. Except that contents of sewer happened, and I was too overwhelmed by mania, exhaustion, and deadlines at the day job. So I didn’t deliver.
I tried to find some intimates to bail me out. One did, voluntarily. EB, you rock!! A couple of my other darlings had prior engagements. My baby brothers commiserated … but they have the combined attention span of a feather, so with all the love they have for me, they couldn’t help.
Enter she. I called her on a whim, cursing and grumbling while I did. It’s pride really. I’ve always known she’s better than me, I just didn’t particularly want to buy her a badge to prove it.
One [of the many] thing[s] I give this girl, she’s gracious. There was not a touch of arrogance or superiority or anything at all. She just said ‘Cool, swing it my way, I’ll work on it.’ She did. And how.
I am looking at her work now. Awe does not even begin to describe it. My work is good, but hers is brilliant!! It’s like comparing a roman column to a toothpick. Well, maybe not, but the metaphor sounded really nice in my head.
Anyway, point is she’s good. She makes this excrement look easy. And she’s so copulating nice! Coitus! I’m looking at a chapter she’s done vs a chapter I’ve done. I know you’re not meant to compare yourself to anyone yada yada yada, but copulate it, she’s good! Cowdung!!
It comes down to style really. I’ve got ideas, but she’s got technique. I dazzle my boss with whiffs of brilliance when I come up with some unexpected concept that looks good in print. She fixes the text and makes it look all neat and sensible. I do the quirk, she does the polish. Which is all well and good, except that we’re editors, so we’re supposed to do less quirk and more polish. Hence, she is way better at th’ish than I am.
I am not complaining though [uh-huh, eyes on the nose now…]. She works somewhere else now, so the rivalry is all in my head. And she has done this beautiful job for my client. She gets the cash even though I get the glory, I am forwarding every cent to her. I don’t need bad kharma stalking me around.
Is there a point to this rant. Er…yeah. Editorial side-hustle = fail. I will stick to writing and blogging. I toyed with the idea of copy-writing a while back, I might look into that. But I shall leave the editing to the editors. Woman, bow dooooown! I salute you.
Oh, PS: she’s the tiny petite damselesque boys-fall-all-over-themselves-to-save-her type. Short and sweet and pretty little figure. And she’s got glasses and a Sophie Ikenye bob. Sigh. Some girls have all the luck. Back to my corner. **grin**
PPS: I’m considering telling my boss that I can’t do the 6-months-shrunk-into-one project. What are the odds he’ll fire me? I’m thinking he will bribe me instead, to try and make me bite the proverbial bullet. Hmm. This might be the week I discover what my price is. Interesting.
PS 3: I was supposed to go for a wedding tonight. [Yes, the four separate TZ wedding ceremonies generally happen at night]. I had my pretty little dress and my pretty little shoes, but the hair was a mess!!It hasn’t seen Rashidi in months because I’m always at work. The horror!! I tried to sneak an appointment today, but he was all ‘I’m too tired, call me tomorrow’. Sigh. Anyway, I put on the pretty dress and the pretty shoes and pranced around to the sound of my little girl’s camera click.
Then I put princess and nanny in a cab and sent them on their way … without me. Yep, I’m chicken. Cluck cluck. So now I’m sitting with my top in my lap and my pretty little dress grazing my kness while I work. Later I shall hear tales of the bride and the groom and a small piece of cake, but for now, I happy in my little girly dress, even though no one but me can see it 🙂