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Helen Moffett

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The editor’s meme

One thing I love about the internet: everybody knows what a meme is (I like the punning angle too, me-me). There’s been one doing the rounds for about a week (which means it’s probably already had its day), a poster describing a profession from the perspective of society, parents, friends and the person doing the job.

Here’s the one for publishers, for example.

Some folk are already sick of the meme, and there are some lovely parodies as well, but it really tickles me.

I think this is because I love what I do so much, and yet it isn’t immediately clear to folk what I mean when I say I’m an editor. I sat next to a very clever British engineer at a wedding this week, and upon hearing what I did for a living, he said “So you correct people’s grammar, then?” Sarah Lotz overheard, and zinged back, “She tells authors to cut the crap, and that they can do much better.” Cue confusion.

So I went home and collected the following images, which Rustum Kozain very kindly made into a poster so I could put it on my Facebook wall. (Thanks, Mr Grondwerk — it’s much appreciated.) And so this, my dear ones, is what I do, what I love doing, and what I will be doing until I drop in harness, or the world ends, whichever comes first.

Here’s Rustum’s poster:

Here are the pictures (a little different):

This is what society thinks I do:

This is what my friends think I do:

This is what my mother thinks I do:

(What my mother, my friends and society all think I do is pretty interchangeable, I should add.)

This is what publishers think I do:

This is what my authors think I do:*

This is what I think I do:

This is what I really do:

When I’m not doing this:

* True confessions: I put together this entire post just so that I could publish this picture.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Kelwyn Sole</a>
    Kelwyn Sole
    February 19th, 2012 @16:41 #

    Wonderful, Helen.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Rachel Zadok</a>
    Rachel Zadok
    February 19th, 2012 @19:53 #

    Ha ha. Brilliant. I still don't know what you really do though.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    February 19th, 2012 @21:27 #

    Thanks, Kelwyn and Rachel. What I really do (sometimes): sit in my garret with my head in my hands, moaning "Why did I agree to do this, why why whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?" (especially when editing academic references), or "What madness possessed me when I said I could meet this non-negotiable deadline?" (usually when editing fiction). And sometimes the stuff I'm editing has me curling up in despair, either because of the content or the writing. No-one you would know, though.


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