At the core, an editor’s task is to use their skills, knowledge, and passion to improve someone else’s writings. What I do for my clients varies depending on what their project needs—a manuscript might need a light proofreading, or a heavier edit, even changes to “the big picture” aspects. With most projects, I offer some level of mentoring—specific tips and shortcuts that help the writer improve their writing craft, which they can then apply to their future projects. The latter task, mentoring, gives me great pleasure because it’s an honor for me to help a fellow writer add to their writerly toolbox.
2: What is your biggest life lesson?
That it isn’t only about me. No, seriously! And that this lesson can’t be learned just once in a lifetime—the old saying, “I’m a work in progress” applies in my life often.
3: What is your biggest achievement?
I can’t point to one I’d call the biggest. Actually, my achievements are my clients’ achievements—the success of their books. Those that made bestseller lists were exciting to hear about, of course, and I’m over-the-moon happy when a client’s book finds a big publisher. But so many clients have told me that just holding their book in their hands was the fulfillment of a long-time dream or plan. Thrills me every time to know I had a part in that outcome.
4: What is currently the most challenging part of running your business?
Working from home, as I do, doesn’t present as many challenges as, say, my past positions working in newspapers or government offices. Certainly fewer distractions! Many editors find the solitary nature of freelancing a challenge, but I don’t. A homebody who enjoys solitude is rarely unhappy, and with editing, the lessened distractions allow me to give more focus to my clients and their manuscripts. Classic win-win.
5: What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome to get where you are now?
As with any small business, it took several years to become known and established. Blessings were with me, though, because I’d been editing for a good friend prior to “going pro,” and the success of his book led to referrals to other terrific clients—some who are still with me twenty years later! Another blessing came along when I qualified to join a prominent network of editors. Referrals came in a flurry then, and by that point I felt I was over that first big hurdle.
6: What is your favorite book?
So many to choose from, but my favorite remains the Bible, because of the history it relays and the important life lessons it holds.
7: If you could have anyone educate you who would it be?
The question about my favorite book got me thinking: what would it have been like to live during the time Jesus was on earth, but with the knowledge we have now—I would have a list of questions a mile long!
8: What is your deepest regret?
Well, I’m certain I’m still building that list <ha>, but to date, my biggest regret is that I didn’t make the leap into full-time editing sooner than I did.
9: What is your favorite podcast?
Again, so many excellent ones to choose from, but my current favorites are Keith Olbermann’s podcast on GQ’s network, and the occasional podcast by Trae Crowder (The Liberal Redneck). Dan Rather recently had an excellent series of podcasts filmed during the trip across America he took with his grown grandson. Enjoyable and insightful, as Mr. Rather always is. And I tend to look for podcasts done by independent news organizations like Democracy Now! on Free Speech TV and the Ring of Fire network—it’s easier to only watch the mainstream media, but it’s a privilege to be able to view (and learn from) progressive thinkers outside the mainstream.
10: How can people get in contact with you?
I prefer email by far, at either BettyBoopWrites@aol.com or ArleneWRobinson@gmail.com.
11: What is your YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts?
I’m not on Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram yet, though that day might come—it’s embarrassing sometimes to feel a little like a social media dinosaur! Here is the direct URL for my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/arlene.robinson.3760 (Note and gentle warning: This page is actually my personal page, and if you visit, you’ll find postings of all kinds, not just about editing and publishing.)
If that URL doesn’t work, you can find my page via a search for “Arlene W. Robinson.” (I was told the “W” helps my profile easier to pick out, since I don’t have a profile pic—what you’ll see instead is a photo of my delightful grandson and granddaughter. 😊)
12: Who inspires you on social media and why?
Social media has its downsides, but I’m grateful that it has allowed so many wonderful writers a larger platform. Writers like Shaun King and Rev. Michael Eric Dyson, who speak out on racial and social justice issues, and John Pavlovitz, a Christian pastor unafraid to call out the un-Christlike behavior of too many of our spiritual and government leaders. Barbara Brown Taylor, Sister Joan Chittister, and so many other fine writers. I’ve often dreamed of having their eloquence and courage, and might never have known about them or read their work without social media.
13: What is your favorite tech tool that you use in your business?
The computer! I began editing in days when much of editing was done on paper, and I’ve never regretted giving up having to hand-mark paper proofs.
14: How would you help people with disabilities?
As someone who struggles pretty often with mobility and speech (arthritis and an old auto accident), I’m not able to physically advocate as much as I want to, and that’s frustrating. But I have a keyboard and an internet connection, and I’m not afraid to use them.
15: What is the hardest part of your job that you have to face everyday?
Getting the workday started! After twenty-plus years, you’d think I would’ve mastered the “work-work first, then housework,” strategy, but no. On most days, it’s afternoon before I actually get started on my beloved editing projects. One big downside of one’s home also being one’s workplace, I suppose. But, being able to set my own hours allows me to edit late if my mornings were too household-chore heavy.