Interview with an editor, part 1

by | May 15, 2008 | Editing & Revising

Writer. Editor. Wife. Mom. Homemaker. Five words that help describe Sallie Borrink, our new friend and WriteShop Primary editor.

Sallie, who’s married to David (our graphic designer), finds herself continually evaluating and adjusting her busy schedule as she learns to make time for each of these personal passions. So come share a cup of tea with Sallie and me as we talk about the many hats she wears. As a bonus, you just might learn a tip or two about editing yourself!

On Teaching

Kim: Sallie, we’re so grateful that you’re serving our WriteShop Primary team as editor. First, would you share a bit of your background with us?

Sallie: My BA is in Elementary Education. After graduating from Michigan State University, I spent the next eleven years working in a variety of education settings and completing part of a Masters in teaching. I’ve taught first through fifth grade. I’ve taught in a private academy, a small Christian school, a classical Christian school, and a new charter school. After being in three different schools in three years I was burned out as a teacher. I also realized that although I love teaching, love children, and love learning, I did not enjoy school and all of the other stuff that goes with it.

On Writing

Kim: Wow, I can see why you’ve decided to homeschool Caroline when she’s older!

So in addition to teaching, what else would you say has helped prepare you for editing a children’s writing program?

Sallie: David and I made the decision that I would leave teaching and pursue my lifelong desire – writing. It was a huge step of faith financially, but God was preparing the way.  The vice president of education for the charter school management company knew me from a previous job. When he heard I was leaving teaching to write, he asked if I would be interested in writing for the education department from home.

This opened up the door for a long-term opportunity that provided extensive experience in writing for all aspects of the educational world. One of my responsibilities was editing curriculum handbooks, so working on a project such as WriteShop Primary is a natural fit given my background in teaching lower elementary and working with curriculum.

On Editing

Kim: I’d love to hear how you go about editing a manuscript like WriteShop Primary. What’s involved?

Sallie: The process can vary slightly from project to project.

  • First I skim everything electronically so I get an idea of the key ideas, important terminology, flow, etc. Getting a grasp of the “big picture” is key.
  • Then I jump in and start editing. The first part is always the slowest because I need to make sure I’m being consistent and setting appropriate standards.
  • There are usually several emails with the author/publisher to make sure we’re on the same page. Once we are in agreement about a general direction, I move ahead much more quickly.

The process also depends on the state of the manuscript and how much help it needs. Sometimes manuscripts are in such great shape that my job is very easy. Other manuscripts need a lot of help. The process will also be impacted by how involved the author and/or publisher are in the project. Some are very hands off and others want to know every detail of what I do.

  • I prefer to edit first electronically and fix all the easy-to-identify problems.
  • Then I print hard copies and mark errors, look for style issues, and just generally edit. I know some editors will do everything on screen, but I think it is very challenging to edit thoroughly without having a hard copy in my hands. It is too easy to miss things on the screen.
  • Lastly, I go through the entire book once it is put into book form prior to printing. Again, there is something about seeing the manuscript in book format that makes you see things you missed the previous times.

Kim: What do you most enjoy about editing others’ writing projects?

Sallie: I absolutely love making something good even better.  I honestly think it is my favorite part of writing.  It’s fun to write something myself and see it published, but I get much more satisfaction out of looking at the draft I received at the beginning and seeing what it has become at the end. 

Editing isn’t really all that glamorous because people don’t necessarily see what I do, unlike when you write a book or an article and your name appears as the author.  But ***I*** see the difference in the end with the before and after products and find it very satisfying.

. . . . .

Kim: I love peeking into people’s lives and learning more about them! Sallie will be back for Part 2 tomorrow to share some tips for parents who struggle with editing. You’ll also get a glimpse into a “typical” day at Sallie’s house!


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