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My sophomore year of High School, I was part of the Yearbook staff. It was technically a class, and our teacher was this terrifying/amazing woman Who Had Done Everything and also taught Advanced 9th Grade English (which I'd taken with her the year before) and World History (for sophomores, so I was also in that class).



She'd been a journalist, she'd done theater (stage manager, and I think acting too), she organized a History trip to some part of the globe every year. She explained all the dirty jokes when we read Shakespeare. She was harsh and critical and fair.

Aside from photographing students/events and doing interviews, most of the Yearbook work had to be done on the computers in her classroom, so it wasn't like we could take our work home. She always scheduled it as a 6th Period class, so we could keep working when the bell rang if we had to, instead of dashing off to another class. At least once a month we came in on Saturdays, more frequently as we approached the deadline. It was a bunch of teenagers giving up long hours of their weekend, and she'd order pizza.

It was a really specific set of toppings, and she got it from our local non-chain pizza place, and she'd been doing this for so many years they just had "Yearbook Pizza" already in their repertoire.

Anyway. I only stayed on staff one year, because it was rather stressful. Totally worth it, but rather stressful.

We called our chunks of text "copy", hence the term "copy-editor" though I really don't know where the term originated. Probably related to newspapers.

In-person, I apologize a lot. "sorry" is one of my more frequently used words. I hem and hedge a lot of things, as a precaution.
At the beginning of the year, a lot of us, myself included, would hand over our copy for her to double-check/edit with a slew of commentary. That we're sorry it's not very good, or we were rushed, or we're not sure of the something-or-other.

She told us "never apologize for your copy" and insisted we just give her our work, and that if there were problems with it, she'd tell us, and we'd just go fix it, no apologies needed. Let the work speak for itself sort of thing. Maybe something we thought was a problem wasn't actually a problem.

That stuck with me, that "never apologize for your copy". I consciously reigned in that impulse, the impulse to tell my teacher/editor all my worries about a piece at the time I handed it over. That impulse hasn't gone away. But I haven't apologized for my work in a long long time.

If I'm approaching someone for help on a piece, I let them know. "Could you go over this for typos?" and "How does the characterization feel? How's my dialogue?" but those are questions, requests.

I'm never 100% confident in anything I post. Especially fanfic; I worry if I've kept continuity okay, how I'm writing the characters, that I've got a bad balance between description and dialogue. I worry that for any particular character, I've written them in a way that's OOC or offensive. When I want the audience to know something, I like having a couple of characters talk it out, but then worry the conversation is forced.

I still always have the impulse to put a giant "OMG I'M SO SORRY I RUINED EVERYTHING" in front of all my fics. Even the ones were I wrote it and read it and went "Yes, I like this, I'm glad I wrote it."

And I don't. I ask for feedback, yeah, I want feedback. But I will never apologize for my copy/fic/meta/writing unless someone actually says "this is offensive because [reason]"

[And if they say it's offensive without saying why, I will ask why, because I want to know, so I can avoid offending in the same manner in the future]



So yes, that is how being on the Yearbook staff my sophomore year of High School continues to affect my style.

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December 2012

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