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Re-evaluating my relationship with copy editing

April 8, 2013

Dear Universe,

Today, I had an existential revelation. I think it’s been a long time coming, but I’ve tried to deny it to myself because the idea of it being true seemed like it would shake my very core. But it’s time to own up to the fact that I have changed in the past two years and things I loved in high school simply do not satisfy me now. This is something I never thought I would say and am unsure of saying now, but here it is:

I no longer love copy editing. It does not satisfy me anymore.

The definition of existential, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is: grounded in existence or the experience of existence. It pertains to the big questions involving the meaning of life. In high school, I was a copy editor on the school newspaper staff for two years, and I absolutely loved it. Nothing could compare to working through a story with my blue pen and fixing errors or syntax to prepare it for publication – nothing, that is, except for creating my own product. I would not trade those years as a copy editor for anything; they completely satisfied me, and through those experiences, I became the journalist I am today.

This semester at KU, I have copy edited for five hours every Sunday night, and I am enrolled in an editing class. I don’t blame these experiences for my existential revelation, but they have taught me something about myself. I used to think grammar and editing were grounded in my very existence; they helped sculpt the meaning of my life. But in recent weeks, I have realized that I no longer look at my copy editing shifts with utter joy. I no longer feel excitement about helping a writer craft his or her story to make it better or about writing that perfect headline. I don’t dislike these things, but I know I don’t have the same joy for it that I did two years ago. And that’s a shame.

I never wanted to be a copy editor forever. Even in high school when all I wanted to do was be a copy editor for the school newspaper, I knew I couldn’t sustain it as a career. It does not satisfy me. This weekend, I have been truly thinking about what direction I want to take in journalism, and I have been looking more and more into producing because that path would allow me to write, work with video, edit, tell stories, talk to people and have control over the product. I feel immense satisfaction when I write the perfect lede or edit video perfectly with the voiceover – satisfaction that sitting behind a computer with inCopy just doesn’t bring me anymore.

I have fallen out of love with something that was once a vital part of my life, and that scares me. I know I’m due for plenty more existential revelations in my entire lifetime, but this in particular freaks me out because I know how much copy editing meant to me. I don’t want to fall out of love with the other things that have been such a significant part of my life. In high school, a friend on the newspaper staff once expressed her concern that studying journalism in college could cause her to fall out of love with it. And I brushed it off because I believe my love for writing, reporting, stories and the news transcends anything college could do to disturb that love. And I still believe that. I still believe journalism is my future because my heart tells me I am meant to share stories and help the world through journalism.

So, universe, I guess thank you for leading me to this revelation. I’m sad about copy editing; I mean, I still care about copy editing. I still think it matters, so I’m not letting it go. I just don’t love it anymore. We’re more like friends. Instead of picturing myself with a blue pen every day of my life (which I never actually did, as I said, but for the sake of this comparison), I picture myself helping run the operation, perhaps with a headset on, figuring out which stories to run and when, which issues to cover and how, which video to show and what words to say, which people to talk to and which places to go. I can see it. And, universe, maybe that’ll change, but for right now, I’m comfortable with that picture of my future. And I am OK with realizing that copy editing and I are just friends.


From → Sophomore

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