Howdy! I’m Alicia, and I’m an editor. (If that wasn’t already obvious!)
I have been freelance editing since April 2014. I have interned at a local publisher and I hope to work for a larger publisher in the near future. But no matter where I’m working, I’m happiest when I have a manuscript in front of me. So many words to play with!
I have loved books and everything to do with them for almost my entire life. I started a book blog in 2013 where I post book reviews and other fun things. I wanted to discuss books with other voracious readers, and it turned out there was a whole online community! I’ve been a part of it ever since.
This put me in contact with a lot of authors who wanted me to review their books and increase publicity. A lot of these authors were self-published, and went through most of the publishing process on their own. Eventually I noticed that some authors were looking for copyediting services, and after further research, I noticed that a few book bloggers were offering those services! I was intrigued. I had always considered myself pretty good with grammar, but I hadn’t yet discovered how much I loved it.
After tons more research, I decided it was something I wanted to (and could) do. So I added a new page to my blog offering my own services, which included both content and copy editing. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into, but I wanted to give it a go. I bought the Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition and studied it like crazy. That was about the time I realized that grammar was addicting. I’ve always said that I’m not good at math or science, subjects in which there are right or wrong answers—that’s why I’m studying English instead—but that’s mostly what grammar is! I had found a set of rules (a rather large set) that I was perfectly willing, excited even, to commit to memory. And I did my best.
The fun thing about grammar is that it’s always changing. Language is evolving before our eyes. Every word we speak contributes to the vast lexicon that is Common Usage*, and eventually the words and rules that stick around long enough make it into dictionaries and style guides. Rules come and go. Based on what we hear and don’t hear, some rules that we thought were rules turn out to be nonexistent after all. Language is capricious, and much more of it is in our heads than can ever be inscribed in books. But we have to keep in mind that these guides are written for a reason. Their purpose is to make communication clear and effective for the greatest number of people. If we follow these guides, we can talk to each other and more accurately understand what others are saying. In spoken language this may be difficult, because accent, dialect, pitch, and tone of voice add a number of difficulties to the understanding process. But in writing, it is much easier to be comprehensible to a large audience of readers. Well, easier in some ways and harder than others. But it is certainly much easier to adhere to a style guide in writing. When was the last time you had the urge to say “whom” instead of “who” during a spoken conversation?
My point is this: To be an effective communicator, or writer, you have to be understood. To be understood, you have to write using the same rules that your readers do, or at least that they have knowledge of. Even if your reader doesn’t use “whom” regularly, he will certainly recognize that it is proper. And you will get credibility points for sounding fancy!
Once I realized that grammar changes so frequently, I knew that learning it would be an indefinitely ongoing process. So I try to learn it whenever and however I can. I read reference books and articles and I watch videos. I join online groups where we discuss language and grammar. I take classes and observe how others use language, both in speaking and writing. I take foreign language classes to better understand the grammar of English. I didn’t know what the subjunctive mood was until I learned French! There is a lot that they don’t teach in school nowadays. But it is probably safe to say that I am almost always thinking about language. It is incredibly fascinating. I hope to share that knowledge with you, whether through working with you or sharing resources and information that I learn in my studies.
*I capitalize Common Usage because no matter what any style guide says, Common Usage is going to be the best indicator of how you should write to be understood, if you’re struggling with an issue similar to the “who” vs. “whom” dilemma. In a way, it’s a more definitive authority than Chicago, even if I have a hard time admitting it!