Now that I'm in the middle of my career -- or possibly toward the end, nothing in life is certain -- I can't help but notice that there isn't a new crop of editors coming of age behind me. The only young editor I've encountered in the past few years is the talented Katie Ells, but she's the exception to the rule. Old editors are retiring and dying off and there aren't nearly enough young folks to replace them. What's the deal?
I can appreciate that it's a very specific calling. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me "Oh, I could never do what you do!" I'd have $5.65. But is it really not calling anyone anymore?
Over the years, I've had several people ask to apprentice with me, and one or two actually completed their training, only to drift away and never be heard from again. Could editorial work really be that unengaging?
Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places. I know that since Corporate America started circling the drain that a lot of companies have downsized their editorial departments -- some of them right out of existence -- so perhaps the next generation of editors are almost entirely virtual. That would be a mixed blessing. I'd be pleased to know that there are younglings to carry the flame, but what a tragedy that they'll never know the camaraderie, nerdy joy, and heated discussions regarding the English language that only an editorial department has.
Ah, well. I can't force anyone to follow in my footsteps. But if there are any young people just starting out and considering an editorial career, I'll tell you this much -- it's more rewarding than you can possibly imagine.
By Steve Boudreault