A few months ago, some editors shared articles on Facebook about editing and aging. I didn’t read them properly, but I saw some of the comments.
I recently turned 59 and have been a professional editor for more than three decades. I’m getting quite close to an age at which many people retire. What has changed, and what will change?
Comments I saw were along the lines of yes, we lose a portion of our editing competencies as we get older, but we compensate by deploying the knowledge and wisdom we have gained along the way. As aging editors, we work smarter—not harder, faster or more accurately.
Personally, I’m not admitting to losing anything apart from an overly prescriptive outlook instilled during my early in-house years. Do I miss more and make more mistakes now than I did back then? I don’t think so.
Editing is unforgiving and humbling. Errors are more haunting and worrisome than they would be in many other jobs. We freelancers don’t necessarily have work relationships that sweeten the pill, or the sense of being part of a team. We’re alone in a big, bad world, where everyone makes mistakes, but ours are particularly evident. It takes its toll. Maybe this is what’s harder to handle as we age?
In my first blog post here, I described myself as “a reluctant editor, resenting the daily grind of juggling deadlines and helping authors to express themselves more clearly.” No doubt it’s easier to keep doing it if you love it.
For me, it’s been a demanding year. Work–life balance has been hard to achieve. I sometimes think in terms of an energy bank from which I make withdrawals when I work. I’ve found that being overdrawn causes problems, including physical symptoms. Worry about these, coupled with fretting over deadlines, can exacerbate the symptoms and lead to further energy deficits. ”You’ll have to work out a better plan,” my wife said to me. She’s right.
As we get older, we need to think more about wellness and wholeness…
As we get older, we need to think more about wellness and wholeness: wellness, as I see it, being good health and freedom from illness; wholeness being the realization of a significant part of one’s potential. Apart from depleted energy, what concerns me is a nagging feeling that I need to do more to fulfil my creative potential. Time is not unlimited.
How to achieve this? A shorter working week, activities that energize instead of exhausting. I do have a healthy lifestyle, generally speaking, which provides a solid enough base.
So, I don’t need much: just good health, some sunshine, close relationships, and enough money to enjoy those things. And a creative outlet. And a better plan.
To misquote Bob Marley slightly:
Every day the bucket goes to the well;
one day the bottom will drop out.
Moral: Take especially good care of your bottom.
At least I think that’s what he meant.
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