I spend my editing days reading about wetted perimeters, Kostiakov equations, evapotranspiration, and probability distribution functions. What are these things? No idea. But I can spell each and last one, including getting all the “a”s right in adiabatic. For some reason I really like working on STEM journals. (This would be scientific, technical, engineering, and medical journals.)
They make me feel as if I know more than I do. I’m reading articles written by Ph.D.s about highly technical subjects. The fact that I can get through these articles, even though I rarely understand much beyond the basics of what they are about (and sometimes not even that), makes me feel as if my MFA taught me more than how to succinctly, constructively, and effectively rip apart someone’s poem even after a couple beers.
It’s like reading a foreign language without having to learn pesky grammar. I’m pretty good at the English language, but don’t have the facility with foreign languages, like some of my friends and sisters. (My family is pretty well divided into those of us who pick up languages like sponges and those of us whose pronunciation of basic French would make you want to sink into the carpet and die. I’m sorry, Dad, I didn’t speak French and even I knew your accent was terrible. Rest in Peace, I love you anyway.)
It’s a niche skill. For some reason I have a high tolerance for the tedious. Maybe it was all the lectures about my father’s (scientific) work over dinner that I got used to ignoring. Also there are jobs. And I’ve heard that you can get up to $75/hour for editing science. (I assure you I’ve never seen those kinds of numbers, but I’ve been told it’s true.)
And it’s infinitely less annoying than literary theory.
What surprises you about your day job?