Proofreading, homelessness, & day treatment- how it affects day-to-day living and the written word
When people think of proofreaders & editors, they don’t often think about one being homeless and in need of day treatment; we work in offices, our laptops, or wherever works best for our productivity.
I have been homeless since 12/09/13, couch-hopping with friends and family, but ultimately led me to a homeless shelter called The Pine Street Inn For Women in Boston, MA. This caused a complete halt of my proofreading & editing job, because I couldn’t keep my laptop with me- mainly for fear of it getting stolen.
Pine Street uses a bed lottery system to determine who sleeps there or who has to go to a different shelter where it isn’t as safe. One night, I was at a different shelter and someone stole my medic alert bracelet, of all things- only to be found 6 months later at Pine Street by a friend. I’m fortunate that my Kindle case makes it look like a makeup compact- I once fell asleep at one shelter, Kindle next to me and it was still there the next morning.
If it weren’t for my Kindle, I would have gone crazy because life without books is unimaginable for me- it allows me to carry a lot of books without taking up much space.For someone as rabid a reader as I am, this is very important. It’s incredible that I was also able to find a lot of good free or low priced ebooks via Amazon that also kept my mind occupied. I have to admit there are some that I was proofreading in my head, and others that need a lot of editing, which is the wonder of online & self publishing.
I’m now in the Women in Transition program, which means I can use my laptop without worrying that someone will steal it; the only time women in the Emergency Shelter (read: where I was before) are allowed on the 3rd floor is after 6:30 at night to 6AM the next morning, where there are ten beds set up for them.
I also found my anxiety getting worse, especially because I don’t handle crowds and noise very well, and there’s no such thing as privacy in a shelter. My anxiety was controlling me rather than the other way around, so, after talking with my therapist & PCP, I decided to follow a friend to a Women’s Partial Hospitalization program. 5 groups a day utilizing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy where we looked at the Emotional Mind and the Rational Mind with the Wise Mind (combining the 2) being the end goal. Now I’m in a longer term program where I go to groups and work on my control and emotions.
This has also given me a new way to look at manuscripts- it gives me more insight to how the author is developing characters, as well as how the characters think. This is important because the readers want to be able to get into the main character’s- if told in the first person -head. Some books have more than one viewpoint as seen by different characters, allowing us to see their version of what’s happening; some are angry, others are happy or trigger-happy (mostly science fiction & fantasy), and yet others want to understand everything. This weaves into a plot that is designed to suck us in, hold our attention and give us a different world to live in outside of our mundane existence, an escape, for which I have been grateful over the last two years. This is also what I look for when I take a manuscript, besides grammar, spelling and plot. In my opinion, being an editor and proofreader are the best jobs in the world. I want to continue this most fulfilling job and help authors get their dreams published. Now that I have a more stable situation, I can.