When I was an undergrad, I remember sitting in one of my English classes and having guest speakers tell us what kinds of jobs we could get with an English degree. One of the speakers was an editor (she was also one of my classmates and fellow English major), and I remember being a bit jealous of her and thinking, “That’s what I want to do.”
As I continued through my schooling career, I had dreams of also being a fiction writer. I took several writing classes and workshops—and had my dreams of writing crushed. I still wanted to be in the writing world, so I figured editing was my best option. After earning my master’s, one of the first jobs I got was as a document production specialist. It’s wasn’t editing, but it was still working with manuscripts. And my editor friend was my coworker, which was an added bonus.
As time went on at that job, I eventually became a technical editor. My duties included reading reports for the normal stuff—grammar, sentence structure, proper English—in addition to ensuring that the information in the text and tables/figures was the same, that references were cited and included the works cited section, and that acronyms were properly defined.
I loved it. It was exactly what I wanted to do. The work was repetitive, but I didn’t care. I was formatting and editing reports. It was amazing. In fact, to do this day, I still freelance edit for this particular company.
I continued to believe that I wanted to edit and took on roles as a freelancer for indie book companies—doing editing from content to proofreading. I enjoyed that also, but it was a lot of work for very little pay. And by this time, I wanted to focus on my own fiction, so I drastically reduced the amount of fiction editing I did.
I took a job at the university where I was called an “Editor,” although editing wasn’t my only duty, I also wrote quite a bit. Again, it was a good fit for me. When I had the opportunity to work at home as an editor, I jumped. It was my dream job.
Well, without going into details, that job didn’t work out, and it seems since then it’s been a downhill slide. I’ve applied for multiple editing positions, and I can’t pass the editing tests. More often than not, I don’t get the results back so I don’t know what I missed, but I’m worried about my future as an editor.
Getting terminated from my at-home job was quite a blow. I’d never been fired before, so it messed with my self-confidence. Continuously failing editing tests doesn’t help at all. I don’t know if I’m having a mental block and subconsciously failing them or if I’ve always been a terrible editor but good enough to get by. Either way, it’s made me rethink my career choice.
I want to switch my focus back to writing. Of course, I’ll always write fiction, but I want to see if I can be successful getting paid to write other stuff. I’ve been a freelance writer in the past, and I’m finding some places to do it again. It’s strange to think that the reason I originally wanted to edit was because I lost confidence as a writer and now I want to write because I lost confidence as an editor.
On one hand, it feels really good to turn my focus away from editing. It’s freeing to not fail any more tests. On the other, I’m not good with change, so I’m freaking out internally that I’m never going to find a job. I need a sign, I guess, to let me know that I’m making the right decision.