Blog post by Katharine Hale
I went through a lot of different phases of deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up.
When I was in elementary school, I went through the usual rotation of ballerina, veterinarian, and teacher, with the slightly more unique zookeeper thrown in. As I reached my tween years, I was on my TLC kick and wanted to be an interior designer, but at my grandpa’s insistence that “They don’t make enough money” and I should pick something else, I started thinking about how people told me I gave great backrubs and thought, “Ooh, I could be a massage therapist!” And when the same grandpa told me, “They don’t make enough, be a physical therapist instead,” I knew my new career goal. A job shadow with an occupational therapist cemented this for me, and I went through my middle school years knowing that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
But it was also during my middle school years that I really started writing. I had been a prolific reader from a young age, to the point where friends would be surprised to see me show up at a school dance without a book, and the words “I don’t really feel like reading right now” prompted my mother to feel my forehead for a fever. As someone who had also always been very creative and elaborate with dress-up, dolls, and make-believe, it seems only natural I gravitated to writing.
My first non–school sanctioned writing was a terrible Harry Potter fanfiction that’s still floating around on my hard drive somewhere. My first original piece was a retelling of Snow White that I fully intend to write someday, though probably without much of what I wrote in 8th grade.
As I began transitioning into high school, my mom expressed her concern that physical therapy wouldn’t really make me happy because I didn’t have a passion for science. And after taking freshman biology and being unable to dissect a fetal pig out of pure disgust, I realized she might be right. But what did I have a passion for? As more story ideas began to flow, the answer seemed obvious: I had a passion for writing.
The problem was, I didn’t just want to write. I loved writing, but was scared I would stop loving it if it became the thing I did to eat rather than the thing I did for fun. And then that answer became obvious, too.
Several of my friends started writing at the same time I did, and though I was originally appointed as their editor because I had the best spelling (2nd place in the Sandia Base Elementary spelling bee, 2004), it evolved into something that I loved to do. I enjoyed suggesting plot ideas and I took pleasure in correcting their spelling (because some of them were atrocious spellers, really). Editing became something I did in all aspects of my life, whether it was correcting a friend’s paper or correcting a your vs. you’re on social media. The first time I ever heard of “developmental editor” as a profession was in my freshman year of high school, and from then on, that’s what I told people I wanted to be when I grew up.
Now that I am [sort of] grown up and have edited two books, I know for a fact that editing is my calling. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that Steve has given me to continue to help authors make their books the best that they can be!