Get to know… an editor

Get to know… an editor

Asking for a minute of a copy editor’s time is like trying to approach a giant African millipede – they look scary, but are quite harmless. Lara Godwin is an editor at Clarity Editorial. She has a knack for language and enjoys travelling. Read on to get to know an editor.

Describe what you do in your profession.

I’m an editor, which means I try and make documents as clear as possible. This includes structural editing – determining the appropriate structure, sequence, content and linguistic level for a given document. I simplify language, correct grammatical errors, query inconsistencies and smooth clunky sentences.

What do you wish people knew about your profession?

That there’s a lot more to it than just running spell-check!

If not your current profession, what would you have done?

Perhaps something artistic, like graphic design.

Complete this sentence: Language must never be used to …

Make lies sound truthful (to steal a line from Orwell).

What is your pet grammar peeve?

Misused expressions like “I can’t wait to see what this year has install for me”. I see that one a lot on social media.

What is the best advice you’ve been given about using language?

Don’t write only “for those who will understand”.

What are you currently reading?

I just started reading The Crucible for the first time.

Who is your favourite African author?

Chinua Achebe (a cliché, I know). I also enjoyed Ayi Kwei Armah and Ngugi wa Thiong’o when I studied their works at UCT.

Name one thing on your bucket list.

Visit Hobbiton in New Zealand. And learn how to poach the perfect egg.

What advice would you give to people who want to be in your profession?

You’ve got to start with a real love of language. That’ll help you get through the long debates about misplaced commas and antiquated hyphen usage.