Copy editing under deadline

Today was my toughest day at work so far.

Proofs were piling on and stories in the queue were numerous, which is sort of normal as I approach the end of my shift, but today, it seemed like there was more to do in less time.

The feeling I get when I send the last page away is similar to what it feels like when you finish an exam. It’s something you’ve been stressing for for a reasonable length of time, but once it’s done, you feel a load come off. You momentarily don’t know what to do with your new-found freedom.

At the start of my shift, things are relaxed. I can take time and be extra, extra careful, as opposed to being merely extra careful. Just walked into the exam hall. Get handed the exam booklet and I’m feeling all right, unaware of the impending pain. Open the book up, scan the questions and can already see some of the answers in my head. The rest will probably, hopefully, come to me given some thought.

In the final hour of my shift, I realize I don’t have all the answers and have written an inadequate amount for certain questions. It’s a race to see how much crap I can squeeze onto the page.

In school (especially university), I didn’t care much about grades as long as I passed. As a copy editor, every mistake I make causes me pain. That makes the tail-end of my shift extra nerve-wracking (also spelled nerve-racking, as I learned the other day) because I don’t have enough time to read entire stories and I’m terrified I’ll allow an egregious error into tomorrow’s paper.

Fear’s a nice motivator.