What I Do: Comprehension

This post would probably fit more appropriately under the heading, “What I DON’T Do…”

I recently read this blog post about copyediting fiction and thought, “thank God I don’t have to do that!” Of course, those who do copyedit fiction are probably just as thankful that they don’t edit the technical junk that I do (and that they can get away without inserting serial commas like a madwoman!).

I’ve mentioned before that everything I edit is written by MDs or PhDs, i.e., really smart science people. And when I tell someone that I edit medical journals/books, they mistakingly assume that I must be “really smart” to understand all of that hogwash. Well, I’m about to let you in a little secret… I’m not really smart and I don’t understand the majority of what I edit. I know, I know, it’s a wee bit confusing. How did I get this job and how do I DO this job if I have no clue what I’m reading??

After 10 years, I’m still asking myself those same questions. I don’t have any kind of science/medical background (I failed out of Bio for Majors my freshman year of college), but I do have a kick-ass English degree. And, somehow, even though I don’t comprehend what I’m editing 90% of the time, I know how to make it look pretty! And I know what elements and punctuation are needed to construct a proper sentence in the English language. And that’s (part of)  my job as a medical copyeditor.

I’m perfectly happy that I’m not responsible for content in any way, shape, or form. (After all, shouldn’t the authors be held accountable for SOMETHING??)

But, in the past 10 years, I have absorbed maybe a little bit of (mostly useless) medical knowledge. I find that, on the rare occasion that I watch a show like ER or Grey’s Anatomy, I can almost follow what they’re saying in those fast-paced Emergency Room scenes when they’re rattling off medical terms like nobody’s business. I find it a little frightening when that happens… but, clearly, some part of my brain is absorbing this junk while I’m working.

Maybe this job is setting me up for a future in Med school???

You can quit laughing now.

At least I’m fully confident that I would ace the class on medical terminology! That’s something, right?? 😉

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