Just Who Am I?

Hi. I’m Cassie Armstrong. I have been a professional freelance editor and proofreader for three years. I have been the sole proprietor of MorningStar Editing for more than a year now. Before you think that this is all that I am, I have to burst your bubble. I’ve had many past lives before beginning my newest adventure. Those include teaching, working retail in a bookstore, being a staff writer with a local business journal, library work, and even a stay-at-home wife, mom, and grandma. I hope you will come along with me as I blog about my adventures, mistakes, successes, failures, and accolades as I learn to navigate in the world as a freelance editor and proofreader. I am not sure what the road ahead holds, but I do know that I plan to continue walking down this road for a long time to come.

Why did you decide to become an editor?

I decided that I needed something to challenge myself mentally. I was a college English teacher, which was something I always wanted to be. Teaching freshman English composition was not a good fit for me. When I decided to give up teaching, I did nothing for almost two years after I made that decision. That was not a good fit either. All I did was drive my family to distraction. So after a lot of soul- searching, I decided to do what I love to do best–work with words. At first I thought that I didn’t want to be a freelance writer because I thought I didn’t have anything to say. Funny, huh? Here I am writing. I’ve discovered that I have a lot to say on this subject alone.

After deciding not to write, I knew that I wanted to continue to work with words. This would still allow me to teach. I loved the idea of teaching, and editing would allow me to teach those who are interested in what I do and what I know, and even what I have to learn. Sounds like teaching, huh? It is but without the classroom walls and the task of reading assignments written by students who don’t want to write them in the first place. After a lot of evaluation, and searching for my bliss, I decided that there was no other option for me. I felt compelled to continue working with words, to become an editor and proofreader, to read the words written by authors who wanted to write, who had something to say. After all, that was really what I did when I read eighty student English papers a semester. Once I reached my decision, I thought there was nothing more that I had to learn. I thought I knew everything there was to know about editing. After all, I competently commented on all of those student essays.

I thought that by simply announcing to the world that I was an editor and proofreader, I was those things. I thought I would immediately be thanked by those in publishing for making my decision, for deciding to join them. I thought work would come fast and furiously. I thought project managers and managing editors would want to work with me and would give me a shot on the basis of my past lives alone. I thought the only thing I had to do was show an interest in language and be willing to take projects off their hands. I thought the accolades would just pour in. I thought the world was my oyster. I didn’t know or didn’t want to face, or even think about, paying my dues. I thought those days were behind me. Yes, I was the new kid on the block, but I thought it was enough that I wanted to do the job, that I showed an interest. Was I ever wrong!

Why freelance?

After I made the decision to be an editorial freelancer, the next step was to decide where I wanted to do the job. Did I want to go back to an office and an office atmosphere? Were there a lot of opportunities for me in Colorado Springs? The first question was easy. I didn’t want to work in an office. And the market for editorial professionals in Colorado Springs is not as lucrative as the market for them in Denver, or in other large cities. Because of that, I decided to freelance. As a freelancer, I could work anywhere. I could work from home, the back porch, the park, even the library. The choices are limitless.

I wanted to work from home. I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to pick and choose among the projects, and I thought it would be easy to build a freelancing career while wearing my pajamas. I thought that as a freelancer, I would have lots of time to focus on every project that found its way to my door. I thought nothing would interfere. I dreamed that I would be an overnight sensation. I thought my family would embrace my new endeavor, publishers would beat a path to my door to have me work with them, and I would be an overnight success. I thought I would rake in the big money just because of my ability to recognize good prose. I thought I knew everything there was to know about freelancing. I thought I would set the publishing world on its ear. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out that way.

Come along with me as we navigate the minefield of freelancing and learn how to survive in this fascinating business, especially in this economic climate.

Next: You’ve made the decision to freelance, now what?