Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Each One Teach One

As most of you know by now, I have, in essence, three full-time jobs: I am a production editor at a major publishing house, I am a freelance proofreader/copyeditor, and of course I write kid's books. It's a lot to juggle and sometimes it seems like all I do is work. I don't get enough sleep, my laundry piles up until I'm forced to wash several huge loads at a time, and my friends barely get to see me. It can be exhausting and stressful.

The solution? Add on another job, of course.

Yes, I know, this makes me sound like a glutton for punishment, but when this most recent opportunity came along, I just couldn't say no. For the next eight weeks or so, I will be an adjunct instructor at NYU, teaching an evening class in the fundamentals of proofreading. This is a class I actually took myself several years ago when I had just started freelancing. Now, not only do I get to pass on my knowledge of an activity I do pretty much night and day, but I get to live out my lifelong fantasy of being a teacher!

I've had some phenomenal teachers in my life, some of whom really helped shape the type of person I became and who always encouraged me to write. (To name a few: Mr. Ron Ventola, Yesho Atil, Dr. Diana Hume George, Professor Alan Parker, Mrs. Pearl, Mrs. Hubert, Mr. Donin, Ms. Grist...) Some I had in elementary school or junior high, some in high school or college, but all  of them made a big impression and instilled in me a great respect for the teaching profession. (Maybe it's no surprise that my best friend is a high school teacher.)

Anyway, I'm teaching a class of adults, all professionals in their own right, so I don't expect them to break out into a chorus of "To Sir, With Love" at the end of the semester or anything. But it is cool to realize that I now know enough about a subject to teach it to others. It makes me feel like my time toiling away in the publishing world has been worth it.

We had our first class on Monday night, where we covered the basic proofreading marks and the general book publishing process. Everyone seems really smart and they're picking it up quickly. So far, they seem to like me (although that could be just because I brought them Munchkins). I'll let you know how it goes from here on in. I hope not to have to report any angry class revolts or anything.

And as long as we're talking about proofreading, for all you current or future writers out there, taking a proofreading, copyediting, or grammar class--or learning a little something about it on your own--is a great idea. It will ultimately improve your writing. You may think you have a good grasp of English, but if you really started studying all the rules of the language, you'd be amazed at how much you don't know! (I know I was.) And if you are a storyteller, words are your tools. So why not learn how to use them correctly?

For the length of this semester, I'll be giving you all one language tip in every blog I post. It'll just be a common error that I come across in manuscripts all the time. If you know the tip of the week already, great! Drop me a line and I'll try to find something you don't already know. Extra points if you find errors in this blog. Deal?

Today's Tip:
* "Further" refers to degree or extent, "farther" refers to literal distance.

I'm sick of this subject and don't want to discuss it any further.
Joe's house is a lot farther away from the school than mine.

Now feel free to tell me about some great teachers you've had in your life and what made them so special.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

So yesterday yours truly turned 35. What? you're thinking. Impossible! You look so very, very young! (Even if you're not thinking that, it's what I choose to imagine you're thinking.) But it's true. I am now ten years past the age that, as a 10-year-old, I thought of as ancient. I think because I was going to turn 25 in the year 2000, which seemed highly futuristic and space age at the time, I equated that age with being super old.

Well, of course I no longer think that. I now know that 35 is when you turn super old.

Just kidding! Aside from the facts that I've started sprouting a stray gray hair here and there, my knees aren't what they used to be, and I can no longer eat whatever I want without gaining (mumble mumble) pounds, I still pretty much feel like I did in high school. I'm still just as into music and books, I still get celebrity crushes, and I still find most of the same things funny as I did back then.

To that end, I thought I'd devote this blog to something that made me laugh recently--and it has to do with a subject I've been dealing with since I was a kid and likely always will: my hair. The battle against my poofy, frizzy, hard to tame curls, to be specific. I know those of you who have straight hair will say that I'm crazy to have ever wanted anything other than my big, wild ringlets. I'd kill for curly hair! I can practically hear some of you shouting. But that's only because you never wet your hair in the morning and brushed it straight, sure it would stay that way, then went off to school, feeling divine, only to have it dry and become an enormous bush, making me look like I was walking around with a giant bird's nest on my head. Not cute at all. Don't get me wrong. I have love for my curls now that I have learned how to manage them. But back then, I didn't have a clue.

Anyway, my coworker, Jen Rodriguez, feels my pain. She, too, had dealt with the horror of the crazy curls--pre-mousse and blow dryers. A former art major, she recently drew this cartoon, explaining the trauma to a friend of hers, and it made me laugh out loud. For all you curly-haired girls (and boys) out there, I hope it'll make you laugh too. (If you can't read the writing, I've written the words at the very bottom.)