I suspect every job comes with its share of hidden job hazards that they don’t tell you about in your interview—perils that likely aren’t covered by worker’s comp, either. Here are a few of the hazards I face every day as a result of my career choice.
1. It’s almost impossible for me to read without a pen in my hand.
I can’t help but recall that ill-fated time I was reading Middlemarch for a book club I was in. I was about a third of the way into the book, having been happily underlining and scribbling marginalia for several hundred pages, before I remembered it was a library book. I had no choice but to plead my case to the stoic librarian: “What can I say? An editor always reads with a pen!”
2. My hands are crisscrossed with paper cuts.
After flipping through sets of galley pages, my hands always seem to end up in a jumbled, haphazard mess. And I have to say, it’s not as easy as one might expect to straighten several hundred 11 x 17 pages into a neat stack. Inevitably, just as I’ve gotten the pages almost presentable enough to pass on to the next person, the paper slices through that tender spot on the palm of my hand. (But I have to say, it’s well worth it to see those words coming together in a form that closely resembles a book.)
3. I’ve come down with an incurable case of pen snobbery.
I used to be able to write with a pen like a normal person—meaning that the primary prerequisite for a pen is that it contains ink and gets your message onto paper. Not so anymore. Now if it’s not a Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball Extra Fine, I find myself in a vague state of panic.
4. My nightstand is perpetually on the verge of collapse.
Being around authors, editors, story lovers, and word people all day means my list of books to read is inexhaustible. At any given time, I’m probably in the middle of approximately five books—a book for each of my book clubs, one for spiritual edification, a nonfiction title in hopes that I’ll become marginally smarter, and a fiction book that’s purely for fun. I have a book to read in the morning and one to fall asleep with at night, a book to listen to while I’m working out and one to listen to during my commute. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. . . .
5. My days are marked by book-induced feelings.
When I was editing a book filled with stories about Southern Cooking, I found myself perpetually ravenous for fried chicken, and I’m pretty sure I snacked my way through all two hundred pages. When I worked on a book about a man who climbed Mount Everest , I felt cold all day and had to layer up my outfits for a month. When I was editing a football player’s manuscript, I suddenly had a vested (and unprecedented) interest in which teams would make it to the Super Bowl. When I worked on a book by a Texan, I shamelessly started saying y’all (you have to admit it’s more charming than the Midwestern “you guys”).
So take warning, all of you aspiring editors out there. These job hazards could haunt you too, should you commit yourself to a life of books. (But trust me, it will be worth every paper cut.)
So what are the unexpected hazards of your job?