Exposed and unedited

March 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

I just finished editing 540 pages of the most uninteresting drivel ever written by man. That was the eighteenth book I have edited since I took on this freelance work late September of the past year. I’ve received fiction books, self-help, and just plain nonsense. Some books, like the last, were monstrous in length; others are no longer than an anti-drug use pamphlet. A few of them require no more than minor tweaks: the proper placement of punctuation marks and a slight adjustment in verb tenses. Most of them actually involve the thankless task of ghost writing. While I am obviously someone who loves books, none of these are ones I would voluntarily pick up at a bookstore, let alone shell out some cash for. The only reason I’m writing about them is that while sending off the last one just now, I realized just how true to form I am at everything in my life.

I start off each book with much reluctance, knowing the only reason I’m going to open it is because I am paid to do so. I listlessly peck at every correction, every few seconds checking the number of pages I have completed and convince myself that the end of this torture is in sight. I mentally debate with the author every senseless point and ignorant mistake he has made (eg. What the hell? Whose rule says you have to put a comma there? WTF? Why is your character doing that?), until I get to the point of sheer apathy. And then, at the last few hours before deadline, I am suddenly seized with the drive to maniacally finish this book and ship it off and out of my life. I hunch in front of my laptop, my fingers seemingly permanently curved over the keys, my back complaining about the 4-hour marathon I’m doing.

But always, as soon as that send button is clicked, I feel at a loss. Something that has consumed my waking hours for the last five days or so is suddenly finished, and now I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ll be checking and rechecking my inbox, hoping against hope that a new book has been sent my way, realizing that only when I am doing something, even a task I absolutely dislike, does my life feel like it serves some purpose.

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