I became a copyeditor because I didn’t want to teach. My MFA program had two tracks: the teaching track and the publishing track. I knew I had wanted to work in publishing ever since I was a wee Clause, so I gleefully took “Intro to Copyediting” and “Desktop Publishing,” etc., while all my friends were bemoaning undergrads and their disinclination to attend class or write a strong thesis statement.
Years passed. Minds changed. I got a job at a college because I am a faculty brat and it didn’t seem right not to work at an institute of higher learning. (I exaggerate but only barely.) And now I’m teaching an online class. The good thing about this class was that the class materials were all there, I just had to adapt them. I spent an entire day trying to wrap my head around writing a syllabus. It was like the questions on the analytical SATs.
You have twelve weeks, and five projects. Students must do project X before they do project Y. They must read A before they read B. In the middle of project Y, they need to turn in a revision of paper X. Oh, and don’t get the dates wrong; students get pissed if you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t smile until Christmas.
Three days in I get what can only be described as an abusive email. Fun. It’s been a hard week, and I’m devastated. But the next day I have regained perspective. I know how this works. I’ve been working online for years, both as a copyeditor and as a project manager working with offsite editors. I know how to phrase emails, I know to overexplain, I know to assume a business-like tone and not let my anger or frustration show.
And today is my payoff. My students had to turn in drafts of their papers. The papers are rough around the edges, but they are interesting and say real things. The students are working hard, and are glad to be in the class, and I get to read all about it. Now I feel all mushy and proud. Difficult Student has not turned in any work yet. But the grades will reflect that. I am mad with power! Mad!!
What are you doing that you never thought you’d do?