What Kind of Editor Are You?

big-lolaDragonfly recently acquired a new dog: Lola, an adorable Schnauzer-Poodle-terrier mix from our local shelter. Lola came into the shelter as a stray, with a broken pelvis and a mean case of ear mites. She’s been with us three weeks and is healing nicely. She’s also well on the way to winning the Sweetest Dog of the Decade Award.

Often, when we tell people that our dog’s name is Lola, they start singing. And we’ve realized that their song choice represents a kind of canine Myers-Briggs.
Want some insight into your personality? Stare into Lola’s eyes, open your mouth, and see what song comes out.

“Her name was Lola / she was a showgirl.” That’s right, the opening lines from Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana.” If you’re singing this song, you bring fun to every document you edit. Who cares if you work in a boring profession – that doesn’t mean you have to be boring! Perhaps your edition of the AMA Manual of Style is tabbed with rainbow-colored Post-It Notes. Perhaps you served “Banana Split Infinitives” at your last party. Or perhaps you take your afternoon tea with lemon and milk. However technical your copy, you bring it to life with fun.

“Well I’m not dumb but I can’t understand / Why she walked like a woman and talked like a man / Oh my Lola, Lo-lo-lo-lo-Lola.” Yes, it’s the other Lola, penned by the Kinks’ Ray Davies. If you started singing this, chances are you’re an editor who lives on the edge. Maybe you believe in letting authors mix metaphors or use they with singular antecedents. And maybe you’re not afraid to make style decisions that buck Chicago and Garner. Either way, your independent approach can breathe new life into the driest of copy.

“Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.” If you’re belting out this showtune from Damn Yankees, you’re probably a conservative copyeditor who insists on traditional style and usage. Allow “since” in place of “because?” Not unless you intend a temporal meaning, buddy. Allow the parts to comprise the whole? Forget about it. Your devotion to the highest editorial standards may annoy some people, but you make their writing shine like nobody’s business.

“I know each song and can sing them all!” If you’re making this choice, chances are you’re an editorial dream team in and of yourself. You likely use Chicago during the day, then turn to AMA or even APA for weekend projects. You’re not afraid to tackle technical documentation one minute and marketing copy the next. You might even edit general nonfiction or teen lit on the side, just for fun.

“I don’t know any of these songs. What are you talking about?” Oh, dear. If you made this choice, you probably need to sign up for remedial grammar and basic composition. Please contact a community college near you.
Samantha Enslen runs Dragonfly Editorial. And just for the record, she is not slamming community colleges. She thinks they’re great.


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