My first editing experience was in 1985, when I wrote a letter to Piers Anthony, pointing out an error in one of his Xanth books, which I loved for the way he plays with language. It's still one of my most positive editing experiences, as he replied with a most gracious letter taking all the blame and recommending a character (perhaps, I realize now, the tiniest bit sarcastically) I might enjoy in the forthcoming installment. I have since come to find out I was extremely lucky in this experience, not only because his children made him stop answering his copious fan mail shortly after, but also because not all authors are quite so gracious when you point out mistakes.
Luckily, I have managed to cultivate a certain innate even temperedness my kindergarten teacher recognized (I'm not sure how many times a kindergarten teacher writes "diplomatic" on a report card, but Mrs. Belski was a singular woman), which allows me to get on well even with the most difficult person in the office, even if their job is to dislike everyone and make their lives a living hell, there are ways to make it a fun game. Seriously. It's delicious.
I started my first newspaper in fifth grade with my best friend. It included my first movie review, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, which I think holds up pretty well: I'm paraphrasing, but basically, pretty and boring. Today I wouldn't even bother trying to make it sound "grown up," which my generation is pretty much responsible for dispensing with anyway, and with hindsight being 20/20, I'd play up my suspicions about any movie with that guy from Highlander. Which I hadn't seen yet, and still haven't made it through.
In sixth grade, I won my first Creative Writing Contest, and I was going to be an author. What I didn't realize is that contest was an "in the style of," which I'm great at, not really "creative writing," at which, well, I suck. Had I understood the difference earlier, I would have wasted a lot less time. I also might have recognized the perfect journalistic inverted pyramid of facts in my sixth grade writing, but sadly, only noticed years later going through boxes of stuck-together crap after my mom's basement flooded.
So, I wasted years of time and money in college pursuing some "fine art" writing and photography before I took a reporting class and finally the world clicked into place. A switch into photojournalism completed the righting of my world. Now my incredulity at being asked if I'd arranged fall leaves in that photograph was understood. Arranged? How dare you! Of course I found them that way. Who arranges things for a photograph? Oh, everyone else? A former supervisor's comment of, "Wow, that's EXACTLY how it looks," on my photo of Mt. McKinley was now a blessing instead of curse.
I finally realized I was not meant to make up things that hadn't happened, but document stories and people in as real a way as possible, because reality is always more interesting, bizarre, heartwarming and ultimately creative than anything made up. I also realized I had a knack for answering quickly and decisively that enduring reader question: "Why should I care?"
Bringing that answer to non-profits has been equally rewarding. I love helping others find their voices in letters to the editor, opinion pieces, speeches and appeals. Helping people tell their stories in an effective way to put in motion change they want to see is incredibly rewarding. Along the way, I've taught myself as many tools as I can to facilitate storytelling, including slideshows, video, audio and others the web offers.
And that brings us up to date. What's occurring? How can I help you? Do you need your company blog updated regularly? Fundraising letters written? Op-eds? Photos of your clients? Layout for your online or print newsletter? Not sure yet? Whatever you are looking for communications-wise, I've likely been doing it for years. And I'm here to help.