It’s the Friday before the next issue of the prairie dog goes to press, which means my dear editor Stephen Whitworth is waiting for copy to make its way to his inbox, a hunk of which is owed by yours truly. Then, after Whitworth’s bashed his head against it until all hours of the night, he’ll send it off to our wonderful copy editor, Lois-Anna Kaminski.
I don’t see her edits until they make it into the paper, and she never sees just how dunderheaded my writing can get — thankfully for her, Whitworth catches the very worst of it. But I’ve got an idea of what it must be like for her some of the time. I’ve known plenty of copy editors in my day through my previous work at the Carillon and have heard the cries of anger at the mounds of little frustrations writers bury them in.
That’s why I can say this is accurate. Craig Silverman writes over at the Poynter site about a job posting for a copy editor that goes into some detail. In fact, the chief copy editor of the Crimson White was kind enough to include the five stages involved in a copy editor’s life.
Things really start to go off the rails in stage four, when the copy editor suffers from “existential despair” over the inability of some writers to use proper grammar and style, and check their work.
“You’ve stopped doing your job because, unfortunately, the desk you’re currently slamming your head against doesn’t have a monitor on it,” Davis writes.
Sounds about right. Reading that, I can only hope I don’t put Kaminski through too much hell every issue. (And sorry for any frustrating mistakes I stuck in this post. Let’s put those down to intentional irony.)
You can read Silverman’s whole post over here, which also links to the original job posting.