Ideas, Meaningless Drivel

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Editor

You might think what a freelance editor does all day is worthy of a blog post. That would be a classic example of wrong thinking. But for the sake of filling this space I’m going to tell you anyway and since I just established that a freelance editor’s day isn’t all that interesting, some of the details below will be complete fabrication. Feel free to decide which ones.

6:14 AM – Get urgent phone call from Stephen King pleading with you to be his editor for the upcoming sequel to Under the Dome, provisionally titled Under an Even Bigger Dome – a project that pays by the word. Say “yes,” then mumble something stupid like “my name is Stephen too, how cool is that!”

6:33 AM – Figure out how to defeat the army of dragons that got in through the open bedroom window before they storm the poster of an Irish castle on your wall.

7:41 AM – Wake up.

7:42 AM – Check your phone to see if Stephen King called. Check the walls for scorch marks. Close the window.

8:16 AM – Go to the gym. While on the treadmill, solve a plot problem in a book you edited a year ago that’s already in bookstores. While on the stationary bike, solve a plot problem in a book you’re currently editing. Decide never to use the treadmill again.

9:24 AM – Put leftover pizza from night before in the fridge so you can throw it away next week.

9:25 AM – Eat a donut.

9:27 AM – Eat another donut.

9:30 AM – You really shouldn’t eat another donut.

9:41 AM – Shower. While in the shower, solve a plot problem in a TV show you saw last week.

10:11 AM – Arrive at your satellite office: Starbucks. Reserve a table by dropping your laptop on it despite evil stares from the 27 bestselling-authors-in-waiting in line ahead of you. Order coffee. And a donut.

10:29 AM – Open file for the novel, Nothing But Dragons. Scroll to where you left off on page 139 and begin reading. Scroll back to page 94 to see if the mage on page 139 is telling a lie on purpose or if it’s a continuity error. Determine it’s a continuity error and order another donut. Make notes about how to solve the plot problem. Resume editing.

3:30 PM – Calculate number of pages you edited per hour. Calculate number of waking hours left until your deadline next Tuesday. Divide the second number by the first and get Divide by Zero error. Google “Divide by Zero error.” Follow random link to article about the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Pray they discover time travel before Tuesday.

3:35 PM – Realize you forgot to eat lunch. Decide to eat early supper instead. Go to the same restaurant you always go to and order the same thing you always order.

4:41 PM – Return home. Settle in at your desk.

4:51 PM – Re-arrange stacks of paper and unread mail. Rearrange work schedule to find more hours in a day. Bump editorial review of Hey Look, I’m In Love With the Wrong Guy But it Will All Work Out in the End until later in the month. Email author with explanation and apology and lots of affirming words about her writing that are absolutely sincere even though later in the month you’ll send her a 12-page document describing all the things that need work.

5:22 PM – Get back to the Dragons edit. Determine that Herman the Conqueror is not conquer-y enough. Make notes to that effect and suggest solutions.

9:35 PM – Get up from your desk. Try to ignore sucking sound as the chair breathes a sigh of relief.

9:39 PM – Fix yourself a delicious, healthy snack like fresh veggies or in-season fruit.*

9:49 PM – Turn on TV to watch 11 minutes of some show you can’t remember the name of but the actress looks familiar and wait didn’t she sign a book deal last week and what’s the deal with that?

10:01 PM – Drink something besides Diet Coke while catching up on DVR’d TV shows.

11:18 PM – Wonder where the time went. Wonder where the remote went. Wonder why there’s an empty wine bottle on the TV tray.

11:27 PM – Climb into bed with your Kindle. Look longingly at the list of books you purchased and planned to read before Armageddon. Select a client’s manuscript instead. Begin reading.

1:13 AM – Close Kindle. Check date on your phone and subtract one to figure out what day it was.

1:19 AM – Fall asleep and dream of dragons who fall in love with the wrong guy but it all works out in the end.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


*Or just open a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis and a can of Diet Coke.




20 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a Freelance Editor

  1. sigh, my dream job … albeit without the coffee and the gym (I’m a girl so I drink tea, and one can’t wear long chiffon skirts at the gym) and with chocolate lamingtons instead of donuts.

    1. I don’t think of it as exercise anymore. I think of it as “donut rationalization.” Or maybe the donuts were a fiction. I did say some of this wasn’t true, didn’t I? I’m just full of mystery. And, possibly, donuts.

  2. I’m not buying the part about fixing yourself a healthy snack of veggies or in-season fruit, but the rest sounds completely believable.

  3. I ambled onto your site randomly. I’m not a writer, or a wannabe writer, but I do love to read, if that counts for anything.

    Your posts are so beautifully written, they are delicious to read. Thank you for sharing them.

  4. How did I miss following your blog all this time I’ve been following you on Twitter? I won’t make that mistake again. You’re great. Hilarious, in fact. Thanks for brightening my day.

  5. Haha! I’m starting to get my client-list built up, with the loads of work to boot…I can’t wait for when it gets liks this, ND. Thanks for the laughs, and the inspiration. 🙂

  6. I just had a snack of hummus and baby carrots and chased that with seven store-brand sandwich cookies and two glasses of store-brand lemon-lime diet Twist while watching reruns of The New Adventures of Old Christine, which I have seen every one of them five times. I do walk an hour every morning at 4 a.m. but I chase that with a two-hour “second sleep” and then a “second breakfast.” This market is brutal; I take any and every bit of freelance work I can get and work holidays, nights and weekends and do instant turnarounds when the getting is good (feast) and when it’s not (famine), send out desperate pleas for my way-overdue invoices to be paid.

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