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Monday, February 20, 2012

Freelance Editor Encounters Problems

Category: Life


Hi S,

Well, here are the 10 edited pages from “The Care and Feeding of the Astral Body”. I have done my best with this, but found it extremely repetitive and seemingly self-contradictory—let’s just say paradoxical—in places, which made it difficult to know how to add to it or improve upon it without completely rewriting it. I know that I am supposed to “flesh out” and clarify the content by adding a couple of paragraphs to each page, but I have had some difficulty with this.

I have tried to add some paragraphs; but after much thought, I must confess to being quite stumped as to how to proceed. I gather that the author of this work is an expert “old soul” who has lived over ten lifetimes on earth, and is now operating from another dimension of astral space, being channelled through a typographer in order to provide advice to those of us neophytes who have only lived a couple or three lives here on the earthly plane. Not being such an old soul myself (I think this may be my first life, my second at most!), I guess I just don’t know how to improve upon such formidable advice.  For example, I don’t know how to interpret the dual facts that our soul is actually just a coating, as on a candy bar, but is also (three pages later) the central core of our being.  Likewise, I don’t know what to make of, “You can’t fool the universe. The universe is older than its years.”

So you will find that although I have made a LOT of corrections of grammar and flow, there probably are NOT a couple of additional paragraphs every two pages. I just didn’t know what to add; I felt that by adding anything, I might somehow compromise the integrity of the work. 

My editorial recommendation for something like this, I have to say, would ordinarily be that it should be cut, cut, and cut some more (largely for redundancy)—not added to. There are a lot of rhetorical questions—about four pages of them altogether—and I wasn’t sure if my adding more rhetorical questions would help or hinder. “Which do you think is better—negativity or positivity? Would you feed rocks to a baby? Would a baby be satisfied if you fed it rocks?  Would the baby cry, or would it be happy? Are rocks good for babies to eat, or bad? Do babies have teeth?  How could a baby chew a rock? Can a baby be happy with a life full of emptiness? You must decide. For the decision is yours, and yours alone.”  I thought of adding something like this (I am especially intrigued by the idea of filling something with emptiness, which is a recurring theme), but I wasn’t sure if my rhetorical questions might somehow be of less quality or value than the original ones; I thought it might seem like I was being facetious or something. 

I also feel really bad, because, before I realized what I was editing, I deleted a lot of the author’s uses of the word, “for”. For example, the original would say, “Live in the now.  For your soul doesn’t care what the wristwatch says on your arm.” And I would stupidly change it to something like, “Live in the present, because time is irrelevant to the soul.” After the first few pages, I realized that astral authorities (of course!) use the word “for” a lot, instead of “because” (it certainly sounds more important and poetical), but I was getting cranky by that time and didn’t go back and change all the occurrences back from “because” to “for”. However, you will notice that towards the end of the document I was leaving the original instances of “for” in place. For I was getting tired. 

The word count for these ten pages was about 7050 words, which would be about 28 pages at the standard rate of 250 words per page. If the size of the font were any smaller I would not have been able to read it! I did agree to edit 10 pages for $2/page, but I wasn’t really expecting the font to be so small and the writing so erudite. 

All that said, I’m not exactly complaining, but just expressing concern about how to do a good job on this project. I am still willing to edit at the same rate (about 6 cents per 250 word page), at least for the time being; but I can’t seem to figure out how to add paragraphs to this kind of material. 

Please have a look at what I have done and let me know what you think about all this.  I appreciate the fact that you and your boss liked my work on the transcripts of the stories of people who have just passed through the tunnel, into the light, and on to the next plane. Being promoted to work on this book has been a great honour. But perhaps I am not cut out for editing a book by an authority who now resides permanently on another astral plane; perhaps, after all, I am better suited to edit short articles by ordinary people who have only recently died.

Since you are in Bangladesh and your boss is in Wisconsin, and I know you’re both busy, I won’t expect an answer (or payment) right away. It would be great if you could get back to me fairly soon, though.  Again, I appreciate this opportunity and look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,

J

 

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