An Appreciation of What Authors Do

by Beth McAuley

Published at 2011-01-10

We have been editing and proofreading a number of manuscripts over the past few weeks that have made us here at TEC come to realize just how hard authors work.
This is not to say that I haven’t realized this before—having been an editor for so many years now, I have worked with an amazing array of writers. And I have always been in awe of how they do it. That is, how they do their research, structure what they want to write, and then find all the words to describe what it is they are writing about.
But sometimes we suddenly see something afresh after not seeing it for a while.
And this is what happened to my co-editors and me just a few days ago. We were reviewing our projects and making notes about what we would continue working on this coming week.
Among our current projects is the proofreading of a PhD thesis about the 1892 cholera epidemic in Toronto, a copy edit of a comprehensive and insightful local history of a small Ontario town, and a copy edit of an academic book on how a particular university responds to issues facing students with disabilities.
When proofing and editing such well-researched and well-written works, it can take your breath away to realize just how much work the authors have put into their manuscripts: the hours of research, the checking of facts, the shaping and writing, the rewriting and revisions.
In addition, we are meeting regularly with two talented authors in our Writers Support Package. Because we are working so closely with them, we can see first-hand just how hard it is for writers to get their ideas down on paper, to find the exact words, to find and maintain their voices, to find the exact structure that works to tell their stories, and to find the motivation to write every day. Our coaching and feedback supports their efforts and their progress.
We just had to say how much we appreciate the authors we are working with. With each new project, we sharpen our skills, build new relationships, and are given that unique experience of learning as we edit and proofread their manuscripts.
This is one of the many reasons we love what we do.