Friends always seem interested in the types of writing I get asked to do as a freelance writer and always ask me what I’ve been working on. The short answer to their question is ‘anything and everything’ because there is not a single topic about which you can’t find some information on the internet – and all that information has to written by someone like me.
Every article needs to be informative and as accurate as possible (although I’m only too well aware that is not always the case with everything you read on the World Wide Web). Needless to say, my knowledge is not encyclopaedic (if it only were, I would be applying as an understudy for the legendary Stephen Fry!) and of course worthwhile articles require painstaking research to give them any commercial value at all. That, of course, means that I spend most of my day browsing the internet, sifting through the billions of words in search of reliable, verifiable facts.
I have two visions of the internet: one as something vaguely incestuous with interrelated links like a massively extended Eastenders family; and the other like a gigantic mechanical cannibal as it constantly feeds off its own kind, regurgitating the same information to be re-devoured and regurgitated in a slightly different way in order to evade accusations of plagiarism. There are numerous devices available to check for copyright infringements, but after a few years of writing articles it become easy to trace these back to their source through their sometimes tortuous literary umbilical cords. I have seen my own material re-created in this way and no longer feel indignant about what at school was once called ‘cheating’ but which has now become standard internet practice. After all, it’s only words, and the spirit of the internet is to make knowledge accessible, which can only be a good thing.
Still, it does make general article-writing pall after a while. Thinking up new things to say on a subject becomes more and more difficult as the internet expands at such a fast and mind-boggling rate. Do we need one more article parroting the same information on this over-burdened super highway? This is one of the reasons I have moved slightly sideways into editing and am finding this much more satisfying.
Most interesting of all is editing creative work. With the growing popularity of ebooks, more and more writers are taking advantage of this platform to self-publish. They say everyone has a book in them and just a quick glance at Amazon’s Kindle store seems to corroborate this urban myth. However the internet also encourages brutal honesty and readers will write reviews telling you exactly what they think and one thing readers definitely dislike is reading a book with glaring errors of grammar, punctuation, syntax etc. And this is where I come in.
I feel truly privileged to work with really creative people and help them to realise their ideas by tidying up a well-crafted story so that it flows properly and does not hinder its readers’ enjoyment of the narrative. With my own aspirations to be a published writer, I can honestly say that this is a dream job – only one step away from enjoying success in my own right (or should I say write?)
Creativity and ambition are infectious too, it seems. One particular writer for whom I edited an ebook quickly became a very good friend who began to encourage me in my own writing endeavours in a positive and helpful way. The result was that within a week, thanks entirely to her, I published my first ebook on Kindle and that was a truly thrilling event for me! It was something I had simply not considered for myself before. The short blog to follow this will contain brief descriptions and links to both Deb’s debut novel (Bound to the Prince) and my own (The Apple Tree) and I would be equally thrilled if you chose to read either of them, as one shows my editing skills and one my writing.