My name is Alice and I’m a born editor, AND a very picky reader. You’ll often find me at my editing home: the dining room table perched over my laptop frequently straightening out my posture, wearing my editing glasses—my eyesight went to hell last year. Thank you, editing! As a kid, I had to analyze books, movies and songs. Had to. I remember trying to figure out what Olivia Newton-John was saying in “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” from Grease, and taking the record off the turn table and back on twenty times till I wrote down the lyric right. I religiously listened to every Phil Collins lyric and believed I’d match his heartbreak experience when I was older (wait, that’s another blog post).
My dad often told me I “thought too much,” but I couldn’t help it. I remember reading books that I wish were better written and I’d ask questions about why the author didn’t mention so and so. At the time I didn’t know what the phrase “plot hole” meant, but that’s exactly what I found in all of the fiction I encountered. As a result I started reading nonfiction, comic books and “movels”—movie novelizations; as least the plot didn’t lack any key elements and I already knew how the story ended. The only “fiction” I could stomach was a book of Greek myths since they were character-driven tales where the god/goddess/mortal had to cross almost insurmountable odds to achieve their goals. They were also violent. I loved the story where Artemis is bathing and a poor slob enjoys the peep show. He doesn’t last long since she first turns him into a stag and then her dogs eat him. Perhaps this is why I’ve always been a fan of Star Wars, which is really a myth disguised as Luke Skywalker’s coming of age story of finding the home in his heart.
Speaking of Star Wars, I also loved going to the movies where I’d beg my father to sit through the credits so I’d know where it was filmed and who did the sound editing. He always complied and never told me it was a little weird. Well, he probably understood me since he always pointed out anachronisms. For instance, in Raiders of Lost Ark which was supposed to take place in 1936, they showed a 1942 Ford, and boy did that mistake bother him! My husband, Keith, a vintage car owner, also loves to point out these issues to me, which makes only one trait my father and husband share.
Going to the movies and to the comic book store with my dad turned out to be one of our favorite things we’d do together. Thanks to Dad, he also bought me and my brother several comic book subscriptions: Spiderman, G.I. Joe and Star Wars that would arrive in our mailbox in brown paper wrapping. My brother never read the comic books meant for him, so I became an enormous G.I. Joe fan by reading the comic book while playing with all of his action figures. Again, I loved the strongly developed characters and how they picked on each other while laughing in the face of danger. One of my favorite lines was, “You’re about as funny as a hand grenade.” No wonder I loved Predator, Aliens and The Hurt Locker; war dramas with strong characters and intense action.
In college I majored in business and worked at Belk in several capacities for nine years. I dabbled in writing, but it wasn’t until I began grad school at NC State in English did I enter “editing world” through the tutoring portal. I tutored students in writing and speaking throughout my grad school stint, but I edited too much, which frequently got me in my trouble with my boss. That was OK, I’m not a tutor; I’m an editor.
One of my strengths is finding plot inconsistencies and working out character timelines in addition to performing the grammar, proofreading and line editing functions. I also love fact checking like my dad used to do at the movies. My clients love this about me and never get weirded out when I bone up on their subject and totally immerse myself in their world.
There was a time about seven years I was thinking about giving up editing so I could concentrate on my own writing projects. Editing others’ work does take up your life, not leaving much room for your own creativity. Then a friend of mine said, “Don’t quit; there aren’t many really good editors out there; we need you!” So I stayed in the game and began receiving stronger work to edit. Now all of my clients are fantastic and getting rave reviews for their books.
A while ago my mother told me that my grandmother, her mother, was an editor. Soon after, I found out my first cousin had a 20-year editing career! Editing is definitely in my blood and I wholly embrace who I am. Like Luke Skywalker, I found my true calling.
A little more about Alice:
In the past decade, Alice has taught writing workshops to thousands of aspiring fiction and memoir authors of nearly all ages from 9 to 90 both around the corner and across continents. Heroes without Capes is her most recent collection of poetry. Previous collections are After the Steaming Stops and Unfinished Projects. Alice is also the editor of the anthologies Tattoos and Creatures of Habitat, both from Main Street Rag. A North Carolina Writers’ Network board member and a Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in the News and Observer, The Broad River Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Soundings Review and in numerous journals and anthologies. When she’s not editing or writing poetry, Alice is an Irish dancer who plays guitar and violin. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband, two children, four loud birds and one messy guinea pig. Visit Alice’s website at www.aliceosborn.com.