Don’t worry. There is more than one reason why I love my two jobs this semester. But there is, however, one reason I will always unfailingly mention when you ask me about my work though. Spoiler alert: It’s big enough to change my “life plans.” (Who am I kidding, what life plans, I just want to survive this semester.)
On any given day, if you were to ask me what I saw myself doing in five or ten years, I would undoubtedly tell you that I see myself writing. It’s still unclear as to what exactly I’d be writing, but it would definitely be the main component of my job – if I had a say in it, that is.
After this semester though, my answer may end up changing a bit.
“In the far flung future, I want to be writing. But I wouldn’t mind doing some editing too.”
I have spent many, many, many hours this semester editing people’s work. It is, essentially, my job. Er, jobs. As a writing tutor at Berkeley’s Student Learning Center and Spoon University at Berkeley‘s Editor in Chief, the main element of both my jobs is reading my peers’ writing.
This process probably doesn’t involve me purchasing as many red pens as you might think though — and that’s not because most people write on their computers now. Because I also don’t find myself sliding my cursor to the text color selection in the tool bar of WordPress or Word Document.
For me, editing isn’t about finding the verb tense inconsistencies, dangling modifiers, or misplaced Oxford commas. In fact, I’m told and trained not to do this at the SLC. What I look for – and what I enjoy the most – is finding the heart of each person’s work.
Since I started tutoring at the SLC last semester, I’ve discovered genuine joy in discussing writing with other people. I love hearing what they have to say about the books I’ve read, the food I’ve sampled, and even all the subjects that I know very little about. Every individual has such a unique way of looking at different issues and topics, and I find it a privilege to learn about so many things from so many different people.
As for my role in this conversation… There are still times where I wonder just how qualified I am to be helping all these people with their writing when I, myself, continue to struggle to find the right words to say to my friends, write in my essays, and pen for all of you readers here. But then I run into those writers who manage to reassure me by simply asking a question or by saying two words.
“What times do you tutor?” and “Thank you.”
A few weeks ago, I helped someone out during my SLC hours. A few minus one week ago, I helped that same someone out during the same shift of my SLC hours because they had made a point of stopping by and signing in when I was there, just so they could work with me. It was, by far, the highlight of my day, to be greeted like an old friend by a student writer while on the job.
This writer’s choice to return to my tutoring hours and their way of greeting me fall in line with just I feel when I receive the “thank you”s after I finish working with each writer. Though these expressions of gratitude may seem mundane and almost too commonplace, they’re often my only way of gauging how well I actually helped each writer.
And when I’ve been successful, when I’ve managed to help each writer to the best of my ability in the areas that they sought my help, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. I’m grateful that I can be of help to others, and that I am in a position where I am often presented the opportunity to provide this.