Friday, May 17, 2013

Writing, Editing, and the Power of Three--A Guest Interview with Writer and Editor Jeri Reilly

Jeri Reilly is a writer and freelance editor. She is currently writing a book--a manifesto for baby boomers--with co-author Eric Utne. She blogs about word matters at and can be followed on twitter @jerireilly. She lives in Minneapolis and sometimes in Ireland.

Tell us about your background as an editor and writer.

I fell into editing because I was a writer. For many years I worked for a cultural organization where I wrote and edited all kinds of communications for management.  

One day I told my boss I needed to get some credentials--so that when I told this or that manager that they had to change a word or a sentence, I would know which rule to cite. So they wouldn't take it personally. My boss agreed, and so I flew to Chicago and took an intensive course taught by the managing editor of the Chicago Manual of Style.  

I returned to work elated: I had my University of Chicago Publishing School certificate, I knew my way around the latest edition of CMS, and I had a lovely box of (erasable) colored pencils for marking up pages.

Editing has given me a lot of freedom. It made it possible for me to live in Ireland after I left that full-time job. When I moved to a 200-year-old stone cottage halfway up a mountain, I brought my American clients with me, via dial-up internet. One of my writers, a memoirist, did not write on the computer but was undaunted by the distance between us.