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By Mike Ruffin


For the last few years, I have made my living by being an editor. My specific responsibility has been to edit Bible study curriculum for Smyth & Helwys Publishing.

The process goes something like this. First, I identify and recruit writers. Second, the writers submit their material, hopefully within shouting distance of the deadline. Third, an assistant editor formats the material so it conforms to our standards for publication. Fourth, I edit the material. This is the most labor-intensive and time-consuming part of the process for me. Fifth, the assistant editor copyedits the material, which means she reads it with an eye toward form, style, and readability.

Sixth, I review the assistant editor’s copywriting suggestions. I can either accept or reject them, but she does such a good job, I almost always accept all of them. Seventh, the material goes to our graphic design person for typesetting. Eighth, I deal with whatever issues emerged in the typesetting process, which usually means I have to do some cutting to make the material conform to our space parameters. Ninth, an editorial associate does a cold read of the material–think of it as one last good look with an eye toward finding errors and inconsistencies. Tenth, I review the editorial associate’s suggestions. I can either accept or reject them, but she does such a good job, I almost always accept all of them. Eleventh, the graphic designer makes a new version of the piece (he actually usually has to produce several versions along the way). Twelfth, the finished product goes to the printer. Thirteenth, the warehouse manager ships the printed material to the churches that subscribe to and use our products.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years.

But I won’t be doing it for much longer. That’s because as of January 31, I will be retired. I went through that long description of our editorial process as a way of saying how grateful I am for the partnerships I have been privileged to have in doing this work. As you can see, I couldn’t have done it alone. Editorial work truly requires a team effort.

I imagine that’s the case with most jobs. I know it has been with mine. If you have coworkers that you appreciate, I urge you to let them know. Everybody could use some encouragement.

There is a phenomenon happening these days known as the Great Resignation. The pandemic and other factors have inspired lots of people to make a mid-career job change. Many of them have awakened to the realization that they just don’t want to keep doing what they’ve been doing. I hope that they will find a meaningful and satisfying vocation.

The thing I have in common with those participating in the Great Resignation is that I am making a vocational transition. In my case, that means more than that I will no longer be working for someone else. It also means that I will be doing what I really feel called to do at this point in my life, which is to write. I am grateful for the opportunity to put my gifts to work in what I hope will be a meaningful way.

Of course, writers write so that others will read, so I hope you will read some of the stories, poems, essays, and books I plan to write.

I’d be grateful if you would.

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