Last month was the annual American Copy Editors Society conference, this time in St. Petersburg, Florida. (I am not a big fan of Florida, but at least it was an easy flight and no time change!) Every year I get more and more out of this event; see my recaps of last year in Portland and the year before in Pittsburgh. Here is how ACES describes its membership, from the all-new website:
WE ARE AN INTERNATIONAL MEMBERS’ ALLIANCE OF EDITORS working in digital media, traditional print media, corporate communications, book publishing, academia, government, and beyond. We work at your local paper, favorite website, and Fortune 500 companies. We are freelance editors, students, and professors. We’re united by a love of language and a passion for precision.
As always, there are sessions geared to all types of editors. And guess what, this year I presented a session! Really, me! It was called "Cookbook Editing from Soup to Nuts" and it went GREAT! I was really nervous, having never spoken in front of a large group (read: having never spoken to a group other than my family members gathered around the dinner table...). I knew my stuff inside and out so I didn't need to read from notes, people laughed at my jokes and funny slides, and I was able to field all questions easily. I walked into the room very anxious and walked out an hour (!) later floating on air. And I recently got my feedback from the post-conference survey and got all very positive reviews. The comments were especially gratifying. I was really proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone in a BIG way. Beyond that, I had a blast, as usual, hanging out with hundreds of other editors for several days, learning and having fun. Next year we meet in Chicago, and I already can't wait.
Although I edit mostly cookbooks, I also do other nonfiction. My two favorite non-cookbooks I edited last year came out recently:
How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn was a blast to work on—she's a terrific writer, and really funny. Dunn and her husband are both freelance journalists, happily married. Then their child comes along ... and suddenly Dunn realizes that things are not quite as equitable as they were before. And she's not happy about it. She's pissed. The book reads like a memoir, but it's also a self-help book: Dunn consults experts along the way—everyone from a couples counselor to a home-organization whiz to an FBI hostage negotiator to an erotic video producer and more, to help her figure out how to save her marriage. She shares helpful, practical advice along the way, and not even slightly in a preachy way. I can't think of any mom I know—with kids of any age—who wouldn't find something useful in here. It's also laugh-out-loud funny in parts. (And I did get a little weepy in a couple of other parts, too.)
I have to insist that all of you read Mind Over Meds by Andrew Weil. It's that important. Weil's premise is that Americans have become too dependent on drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter) to solve every medical problem that comes our way. At the first sign of a sniffle, we're stocking up on cold and flu remedies; we mention to our doctor that we have insomnia or heartburn or seasonal allergies and we're given a prescription to take indefinitely; we put our kids on steroids and statins before trying gentler lifestyle changes; even our use of Tylenol and Motrin is way off the charts. And we all know about the nightmare we've created with antibiotic-resistant "superbugs." Weil is the first one to state without question that drugs save lives. Antibiotics and statins and steroids and so on are medical miracles and should absolutely be used in certain circumstances. But too many of us take drugs casually, without realizing what we're doing to our bodies. (Much of this problem comes from doctors who are too quick to grab their prescription pad, and from TV/magazine ads for drugs.) Research being done now is showing conclusively that long-term use of many drugs that were thought to be "harmless" can in fact cause much worse problems. There are chapters on meds for diabetes and pain and psychiatric conditions in children/adolescents/ adults and more, plus an important chapter on overmedication among the elderly. Weil explains everything thoroughly and clearly, and offers suggestions for natural remedies and lifestyle (diet, exercise, etc.) changes to try for non-life-threatening medical conditions before resorting to drugs.