The following is a draft of my writer/ed/proofer professional autobiography, in excruciatingly brief detail…it’s like saying JFK’s dad was into politics, so he got into it too, did ok, won some elections, became president, got shot. Then died. Enjoy dear reader I’ve been at it all day, but you all know how much I love to write to you…and besides, what better topic is there than…me? (I would put a winky face, but I agree with Larry David those symbols are “[part of] the destruction of the English language,” so I’m weening off emoticons….IS THAT OK WITH YOU???? huh……w…w…wha??? whut?)
It is standard operating procedure at major metropolitan newspapers to write stories at no more than an eighth-grade level. The same goes for Web sites and the majority of printed material. The majority of readers in North America will find anything written at a HS level or higher difficult to understand. In second grade, I began reading Stephen King novels, I’m a longtime fan of Roland, the Last Gunslinger and his infinite quest for The Dark Tower. My parents are both teachers and nurtured my love of reading by allowing me access to the same books adults were reading. My second grade teacher checked in on our reading progress by opening books to a random page and saying, “what is going on on this page?” I was reading “Cujo” at the time, she happened upon a page that forced me to describe an especially horrific revenge scene that plumbs the depths of male depravity…My teacher strongly advised that I not be allowed to read adult novels, but my parents knew that by the time I was seven, to have me read any novels NOT for adults would waste my time, not expand my vocabulary and even the Scholastic teen-reader type books were a waste of money because I could read a 200 page book in one sitting. That’s the kind of voracious reader I am. I do not own a television. I prefer the magic and elegance of the written word.
I finished HS in the 98th percentile statewide (a cross product of SAT scores, AP and college-prep coursework, extra-curricular (all music), volunteer work and GPA). This granted me entrance to the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo College of Engineering, where I stayed until I decided I wanted to be a writer/editor, not a code-writer. I advanced quickly through the College of Liberal Arts, Working at The Mustang Daily as a reporter, KCPR as a reporter, then News Director and interning at KVEC, the local Clear Channel Affiliate. Through dedication and a passion for storytelling, I graduated at the top of my Journalism class in 2004, winning The Ed Zuchelli Award for Outstanding Senior Broadcaster (2003-2004) and The Dept. Chair’s Award for Leadership in Journalism (2003-2004).
I worked as a professional brass musician for a year after graduation in the SF bay area and returned home when the gigs started to slow down. I took a job as a process server. Frequently the lawyers I worked for needed to investigate and occasionally track down the people they wanted to sue, often with little information to go on. Not a safe job, but a fun one for me…I love to research, investigate, solve problems and find people who do not want to be found. Private investigations are the good journalists’ stock-in-trade. Gas prices effectively voided this as a profitable job by early 2006.
Shortly thereafter, I found myself contracted to work at Metagenics, Inc. Makers of professional quality dietary supplements. I worked my way up from temporary assembly-line laborer to a litany of middle-mgmt titles including Purchasing, Scheduling, Assembly line lead, mechanic, technician, QA/QC technician, Private Label Expediter and one promotion later I traded in my lab coat for a suit where I was given the honorable title of Label Routing Coordinator, responsible for over 2000 SKUs, most of which would route for a variety of reasons on a regular basis (formula changes, Marketing redesigns, Sales copy revisions, Legal/Regulatory Affairs changes). I sat in between the Ops director and the Marketing Director.
A major routing, such as that for a new product or reformulation would need to route through every department imaginable, think of it as each department being the spokes on a wheel and ME being the axle on which that wheel turned. Once I’d mediated, negotiated and settled on a finalized label, it was me who signed off on the final draft and could place the PO for x-thousand labels to be printed in my capacity as Sr. Proofreader and Publishing Scheduler and Planner. That was a great honor and made the best use of my talents, exp. and education. To my knowledge I have never approved one label, template, marketing brochure or Web page with a single error on it.
My brain zeroes in on spelling errors, grammar problems, run-on sentences, punctuation errors, poor organization, poor structure of prose and the like. I find mistakes daily in the LA Times and it frustrates me, even my beloved Dark Tower books are littered with egregious errors. Editing and proofing is my strongest professional suit by a wide margin. I’m very left-brained, so editing comes easier than writing. That’s why I chose Journalism…it is hard to create a new story, but easy, fascinating and fun to take stories from real life and report them in a uniquely informative, comprehensive yet concise and clear manner. All the fiction I write in my spare time is based on real events from my life. All the characters are based on real people or a conglomeration of two or three personalities. Much like Robert Crumb or F. Scott Fitzgerald, the male lead in my stories is usually me, or some kind of abstraction of me.
Whether you are writing a screenplay, book, novella, short story, column, news blurb, blog or photo-caption, I can and WILL help you – because that is what I love to do…help other writers realize their full potential. Let’s create something great together. -cw