I loved school. I was one of those kids that always had words like ‘studious’ and ‘conscientious’ written on my report cards. My mum tells me I could recognise and appropriately use 40 different words within weeks of starting school. However, I was also a perfectionist, sometimes to the point of obsession. I would throw tantrums because my latest artwork ‘JUST WASN’T RIGHT MUUUUMMM!’.
In high school I became really interested in the natural sciences. On a family trip to Monkey Mia when I was about 14, I met the resident environmental scientist and thought he had the most awesome job in the entire world. From then on, that’s what I wanted to be.
I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Management in 1999, followed by an environmental traineeship with Greencorps. After continuing to sell shoes for a living (I have attended to enough smelly feet to last me a lifetime) I finally landed my first proper job as a scientist in October 2000. I’m very pleased to report that I’ve never had to go back to selling shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I love wearing shoes, I just don’t like selling them.
Since 2000 I’ve worked in various roles for the government, managing our precious water resources. I have done a lot (and I mean A LOT) of writing over that time. My colleagues continually came to me to tidy up their reports, proofread their letters and help them delicately word controversial documents. In about 2008, I started editing in-house. This inspired me to complete a certificate in professional editing and proofreading.
During my last stint of parental leave (my second baby girl is 7 years old already – *sob*), I started thinking that I could be really great at this editing thing and why not make a business out of it. So, I made the plunge into freelance editing and proofreading in 2012.
In that first year, I built my experience and client base gradually while managing my part-time day job with the government and full-time mum job. I joined the Institute of Professional Editors, created a website and business cards and landed myself on a government agency’s panel of freelance editors. Not a bad effort considering the sleepless nights, nappy changes and endless loads of washing associated with raising small children.
My in-house editing work began expanding as colleagues learned of my skills, and over the past few years I have broadened my freelance client base to include corporate and government clients, businesses, students and jobseekers.
In 2016 I felt ready to prove my competence against the Australian standards for editing practice and sat the editors’ accreditation exam. I studied and planned extremely well, so I went into the exam feeling confident, but I had to wait months for the result.
I felt a mixture of elation and relief when I received the news that I’d passed. I then felt a sense of pride when I discovered that only 40 out of 85 candidates passed that year. I’m very proud to say that I’m an accredited editor, and I even get to write ‘AE’ after my name – how cool is that!
When reflecting on my education and career, I now realise that I have had, since a very young age, an incredibly keen eye for detail. This, and the freedom to determine my own working hours, is what has attracted me to the editing profession.
An earlier version of this story was published in the Society of Editors June 2012 edition of Bookworm.
Kathryn Buehrig, of KB Editing, is an accredited editor, working for state government as a scientist and also providing freelance editing and proofreading.