Editing, in any medium, can be a very bland topic of conversation—especially if the person at the other end is not an editor. An editor is often met with a look that enquires in all earnest, ‘Why would you choose to do this willingly?’ Following which some eye-rolling takes place, and yet another accusing question is hurled at you, ‘Why so eccentric? It is only editing! Not like you came up with the idea or created anything original in the first place.’
Editors are an incongruous lot. Often out of sync with the rest. I am one for the written medium. It all started rather instinctively.
Enter boss’ instinct—‘She can pull this off. Will definitely turn out be a lot cheaper than hiring one who actually knows what to do. I can include a lot more in her work responsibilities, especially if she is not aware of the time and effort required to carry them out. Her ignorance of what the work entails is especially blissful for my burgeoning budget.’
Enter my instinct, whimperingly—‘I can do this. With no formal training in English language whatsoever, and absolutely no warning of the various idiosyncrasies that accompany it, I most definitely can. My boss thinks I am capable and it is her book. I am sure she knows what she is doing. Fairly certain. Just hold your breath and dive right in. You will be fine. Hope floats.’
I went about all that I was asked to do in the best possible way, made known to me through books and websites. They were the neon lighting on my dark and lonesome highway, consistently averting a crash and burn incident. As I sat at my desk, procaffinating, after a gruelling 6-month stint, I wondered if there were others just like me, groping in the dark, hanging on to their recommended style guides for dear life.
On a day, when I was hoping for an alien abduction to put me out of my misery, a design intern at work could not contain her excitement. She discovered a Book Design course being offered by the Seagull School of Publishing. It came up during a random lunch conversation. Her description of the School intrigued me enough to look it up. I needed something to hold onto before the wave of indecision about the way forward swept me away in its unforgiving fold. I sound desperate. I was desperate. The page loaded and I caught sight of the words that made me smile unabashedly.
The Seagull School of Publishing, Calcutta, offers a professional course in Editing . . .
A 3-month, full-time course being offered at the School in Calcutta. The logistics made it seem a little out of reach. Uprooting yourself and living in the City of Joy for three months did not seem so joyous at the time. I jostled with the idea and, after some consideration, abandoned it.
I am flaky, so I gave the online eligibility test. The advanced nature of the test brought me spiralling back to the physical world I inhabited. It helped determine the expectations one had from an individual hoping to be an effective editor. I wanted to get through now more than ever. The course had to be the next course of action. Undoubtedly. I was spared any further existential agony when I received an email from the School, confirming that I had been accepted for the Editing course.
I looked up at the ceiling in my living room and expressed my gratitude. An atheist was converted that day. For an hour. I said I was flaky.