Editorial Triage

Editorial Triage. What does this mean? Well, usually it means that something has to go.

It happens. Every day an editor out there is performing editorial triage. In trying to meet an unreasonably short deadline, the editor has not fixed everything in a manuscript before saying “okay” and sending it up the ladder. It’s not new. It’s not pretty. But every editor has done this at least once in their career.

What does triaging mean?

Generally this means the editor has to decide what to edit and what not to edit. It’s best to talk this over with their managing editor first, to see what the top priorities are. (For example, in a business document the top priority might be to inform or persuade the reader about something, whereas in fiction, it might be something that would embarrass the publisher, like misspellings or inconsistent character facts.)

Then, the editor starts their work and does not fix everything in order to meet the deadline. The editor does not get to check off all the things on their usual list of things.

(Seriously, the list that contains ALL THE THINGS you normally check off when editing? Cut that down to five.)

This is a choice. And it’s a pretty hard one, too. We were trained to see errors and correct them. So leaving something unedited is like going to work without a water bottle or the lunch you specifically prepared. (Yes, it happened to me. I left my mason jar salad at home. And my water bottle. And I was sad.) It makes an editor sad, or disappointed at least, to not have done everything they could have in order to make the work shine.

It’s not fun.

But sometimes it’s necessary.

So the next time the big boss says there’s an unreasonably tight deadline and there needs to be an editorial triage. Sit down, list the priorities, and go to work.

(And try not to get too sad on the way home.)

Until next time!
Warm regards,

A Copyeditor’s Job – (In Poem Form)

A copyeditor’s job is broken
Down into four little C’s
Simple C’s, elegant C’s
Clarity, consistency
Coherency, correctness

It’s distillation, clarification
It’s subjective… sometimes
But the typos, the grammar mistakes
The reading every single word
And asking every single comma,
Period, semicolon, and dash—
Whether it’s hyphen, en, or em—
What the fuck are you doing there and
Asking the almost existential question
We humans, with our huge souls and tiny homes
Are afraid to answer
Do you even belong?
These are not subjective

It’s 50-60 percent technical
40-50 percent creative
See it’s not all red, blue, or purple pen
Strokes on a keyboard
Bubbles in the margins
Not all judgments or
Or slicing your work—or your heart—to bits

We don’t want to ruin your voice or
Ruin your story or
Ruin your life


We fix the stuff that matters
Two passes are usually fine
And if we fix something and
Don’t like it
Feel free to query
But know
We will back our edits, our suggestions, our marks
With orange and blue facts
From the big book of CMS

We do make style sheets
For random things like
Your slang words
Our sanity

So on page 305
We don’t need to remember
If you decided to spell a character’s name oddly
Incorrectly even on page 5
For a character not seen again for 300 pages
We’ll just look at our style sheet
And go from there

Be warned though
We will kill little words
Words that do nothing
Like “that”
And in a medium to heavy edit
Watch out
Our pens or keyboards will want to run the show

Your edited manuscript might look
By the time we’re finished

But please know
We mean you no harm
It’s not a personal attack
On you
On your sanity
On your life
It’s just…well…
We want to make your work better
Polished. Refined, even

And if we need to research if
Buttfucked is one word or
Butt plug should be hyphenated
We’ll do just that

We will also call out at least three times
The repeated actions your characters do like
Looked, pointed, smiled
Flipped off, rolled his/her eyes,
And ask you to vary it a bit, use
The full range of motions
If you will

Trust us, doing so will make your characters more believable

Like any profession
We have rules and guidelines to follow
Or we, too, will be called out
But we don’t remember everything

For example, I will never remember
Numbers or numerals so that section
In The Copyeditors Handbook will always
Remain open in my lap but
Never in my mind
I’m the same with hyphenation so
I have that section flagged in CMS
We are not perfect
We just want your writing to be

But we do it for you and your work
After it’s through our hands
Your poem
Short story
Full-length manuscript will be
Than before

All that’s left to say on your part
Is “Thank you.”
On ours

Until next week!
Warm regards,

Look Out, Folks, It’s About To Get Personal

So, this week I realized something about myself. It’s something I should’ve known much earlier in life, but I guess I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Or maybe I didn’t want to wrap my head around it.

This week has been a bit off for me. This may seem off to you, since last week’s post was so positive and uplifting. And I do feel positively about things… most of the time. But sometimes, some weeks, I go a bit sideways. This week, in particular, went more sideways than most.

First up, Monday and Tuesday, I got two more job rejections. This put me in a bad mood to start. Then also on Tuesday I realized how little I know of how to moderate a panel (or of my panelists) and started nervously sweating about it. This “not knowing things” made me feel unprepared, and as my fellow Oolie managers can attest, I like being “secure”… or in different words, I like to know what I’m doing and what will happen. Wednesday was an upbeat in the week. We had Ooligan Press manager training—which gave me some things to think about and added onto my ToDo but probably in a good way—and I went out with friends for quite the fun trivia night.

Now, backtracking a bit, since Sunday I’ve been finding bites on my skin. Very random bumps, mostly on my arms and legs, sometimes skin colored, sometimes more red and sometimes more white. I find a few more every day. No big deal, right?


I hate bugs. I mean, I loathe bugs. I abhor them. I wish they would all curl up and die. (Of course, that would be horrible, since we need bugs in order to keep the world in check, but whatever.)

So it’s a very big deal when I keep finding bites on my skin and I don’t know where they came from or what the hell bit me.

On Thursday morning, when I woke up and found even more freaking bites, I went to the SHAC (the school heath center). After getting some pretty weird looks for going to the doctors for a bunch of bites, they basically told me it could be a myriad of things, including bedbugs or fleas. Well, that pretty much set me off. Fleas? Bedbugs?? I went got an Einstein bagel, Skyped my mom for a bit, and then went into a frenzy even I didn’t know I had in me. Fearing I had bedbugs, I searched everywhere for the damn little things.

So, why do you care? Well, here’s where the personal part takes root.

After searching for over an hour, I went into the bathroom… and cried.

Now, this wasn’t the dainty one-tear-running-down-my-cheek kind of crying. Hell no. This was the whole-body shaking, gasping for breath, hot tears scorching my face kind of crying. It was ugly. And loud. And my cats, who had been diligently helping me search for the past hour, tried to comfort me. (One curled around my ankles and the other flopped over on the floor.)

And I didn’t know if it was because my week was overall kind-of crappy or because I thought I might have bugs that bite me in the middle of the night living in my apartment that made me cry (looking back, I’m pretty sure it was the latter though), but cry I did.

Later on when my sister called and I told her, she said in a very nonchalant kind of way, “Well, that’s how you deal with stress, Kel.”

“That’s how you deal with stress.”

And thinking back to when I was seriously overstressed—like that anxiety attack over Thanksgiving a few years back or when my old job took a toll on me—I realized it was the truth.

I’m a stress crier.

And that’s not a bad thing.

I felt better afterwards. I don’t know why. I just did.

And you should have seen how productive I was. (I had to stop my giant search party at 1:30 in the afternoon, because I had other things to get done today.) I went to the store to buy groceries. I evaluated a manuscript and edited a chapter for Desert Palm Press. I researched my panelists and made notes on them. I developmentally edited a manuscript for Ooligan Press. I copyedited my first two articles for the Vanguard. I even wrote this blog post. While I didn’t get the bites resolved, I still feel like it was a productive day.

So, am I still terrified of bugs living in my bed? Yes. Am I going to sleep on a cot in the living room to see if that makes a difference? Of course. Did I have a giant cup of black tea with milk and honey with lunch? Hell yeah.

But am I as stressed as before? Not particularly.

I don’t know what will come of this weird skin situation. I hope it’ll just resolve on it’s own, but I doubt that’ll happen. I seriously hope to high heavens it’s not bedbugs. (PLEASE DON’T BE DAMN BEDBUGS!) I doubt that it’s fleas because my cats haven’t been acting weird. But if the bites continue onto next week, I’ll probably get some sort of official bug investigator out here. And I’ll probably take my cats to the vets just to be sure.

Until then, I’m going to continue working. These stupid little bites won’t stop me. (Much.) And if they do, well, I’ll just cry a bit and move on.

Warm regards,

Achievements: Unlocked

So, a lot happened while I was on vacation and the few weeks after I got back. The U.S. Supreme Court decided marriage equality is the way to go, Donald Trump apparently got fired from a few different places, and Greece is going through a debt crisis. Plus, Jurassic World came out, the Legend of Korra ship Korrasami is going to be a comic book series, and marijuana was legalized in Oregon.

Obviously much more happened than what I mentioned above. (And probably much more important stuff, honestly, but those things caught my eye.)

These are all pretty big things.

But these are big things to a larger community, a larger universe, and a larger sense of whole.

Larger than me.

I, however, also had a few big things happen. Achievements I unlocked, so to say. Things that live in my little bubble of existence.

  • Two more books I edited came out from Desert Palm Press – Wylde About Her, by Beth Wylde and New Cuts, Old Wounds by S. L. Kassidy – which brings my grand total of published works for DPP up to six since I started in the beginning of 2014. I’ve been working with them for over a year and a half now, and I’ve loved every minute of it!
  • I’m going to be a moderator for the Willamette Writers Conference “How to Develop an Author Platform” and will be representing Ooligan Press. I’m currently doing research on how to moderate a panel successfully, research on the panelists, and brainstorming questions to ask.
  • Write to Publish 2016 got some sponsors, raffles, and vendors. (Including two pretty freaking huge things that I’ll talk about in a later post.) It finally feels like we’re moving along.
  • I secured an internship with Ripple Grove Press, starting in the fall. This is a super cool opportunity, because it’ll allow me to see how another publisher works, gain new insight in the publishing world, and use the skills I’ve been acquiring to help their business grow and succeed. Plus, I get credit for it!
  • I’m also going to be a copyeditor for the Portland State Vanguard, starting possibly next week, and a PSU Chronicles blogger, starting in the fall. These two things are combined because they are related to PSU in the broader sense, not Ooligan Press. The Vanguard is a school newspaper and the Chronicles is a school blog. I’m excited about these two opportunities, because it will allow me to use both editing and writing, two big passions of mine. Bonus Point: I get paid!

These are pretty big things for my little bubble.

Warm regards,

Post Script – I read a blog earlier this week about planning blogposts ahead of time. It was a good idea, very meta in a way, and it’s something I’m going to try. I have a few ideas cooking in my head, but I wondered, did you have any suggestions on what you’d like to see on this blog? (Publishing, life stuff, advice on writing or editing, cats, dragons…?)