It takes a very specific kind of person to be an editor. Many people who you may think would make great editors—like writers, teachers, or other people who work with language a lot—just don’t have the right combination of personality quirks required to succeed in this career.
Being an editor is a tricky balance between being really good at following rules and being a jerk. If you can identify with more than half the items on the list below, there’s a good chance you’re already an editor. If you identify with this list but are not currently an editor, I think I may see a career change in your near future.
Here are eight signs that you’re an editor:
1. You laugh when other people suggest that you “like” to read, because you “like” to read about as much as you “like” to sleep. These are not “likes” or “wants”—these are needs. Granted, they are needs that often butt heads, like when you stay up until three in the morning because you have to finish the book you’re reading. (Also, you just giggled at the use of the word “heads” after the word “butt” because nothing amuses you more than what appears to be accidental wordplay.)
2. Inconsistency is the bane of your existence. This applies to everything in your life: subject-verb agreement, plurals, shoe size, the enforcement of rules, etc. If it’s inconsistent, it bothers you. And if it bothers you, you will do whatever you can to change it.
3. You’ve texted friends before to alert them to typos in their most recent Facebook statuses, because what kind of friend would you be if you let them leave errors there for all the world to see? Online typos are the electronic equivalent of food on the face or boogers in the nose, and anyone who doesn’t see that is a fool in your well-written and grammatically correct book.
4. You either have self-restraint down to a science when it comes to correcting the grammar of new acquaintances or people in positions of authority, or else you generally don’t make friends very easily.
5. Your friends and family members often complain that you “always have to be right,” but you know that isn’t true. Unlike them, you understand the importance of spreading knowledge and reducing ignorance, which is why you can’t let them go around saying things that simply aren’t correct. You also encourage them to correct you if you’re ever wrong, though, admittedly, you aren’t sure if that’s ever actually happened before.
6. You actually keep track of which major publishers tend to have the most typos in their books, and this seriously affects your buying choices.
7. While other people may engage in heated debates about current events, movies, or music, you always manage to find someone at the party with whom you can battle about the use of the serial comma. Of course, you can never be persuaded to change your opinion on the matter, and neither can the other person, but that’s what makes the debate so simultaneously engaging, engrossing, and enraging.
8. When it comes to grammar, you believe that perfection is attainable. Being called a perfectionist isn’t an insult; on the contrary, it’s the ultimate compliment.
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