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Keeping Body & Soul Together

Oh, for a red marker! Or some white paint! Or both!

Twenty-five years ago at this time, Ampersand Cards was just a baby. I was going to be doing other things to pay the bills for a long time to come. For awhile, I worked as a freelance editor.

I have always been a proofreader. Out and about, I often long for a red pen so I can provide a few instructive marks on signs, menus, billboards, etc. I know I’m not alone in this. Let me say that we do not appreciate the term “grammar police.” But I know what I know. I remember attending Parents’ Night in the cafeteria of the junior high school my son was about to attend. The sign above the speakers’ heads read: Today’s Lunch – Hamburger’s and Fryes. Really? Oh my.

Anyway, I miraculously found the perfect extra income–editing courses for the Center for Distance and Independent Study at the University of Missouri. The courses were written for high school and college students. I could do it at home, on my own schedule, and it was interesting, sometimes frustrating but at times hilarious work. I edited cultural anthropology, modern French literature, intro to educational statistics, and world geography, among others.

But the apex of my career as an editor was Latin. The director had just said she didn’t have much for me at the moment. She was casting about for someone who could edit a high school Latin course. Well! It just so happened that I had taken four years of Latin in high school! She was flabbergasted. Yes, two years of Latin were required at my aforementioned, highly disliked all girls Catholic high school, followed by two additional years of language.

Because I’d found Latin so difficult but had enjoyed the quirky nun who taught it, I’d opted for two more years of Latin. Yes, Kathleen, why make the smart choice of studying useful Spanish or gorgeous French? Why not, instead, choose the thing you already know you dislike? Mon dieu! Now there’s a mistake I’ve always regretted! To my deep disappointment, the quirky little nun did not even teach Advanced Latin! C’est dommage. I soothe myself with the thought that Latin was good for my vocabulary. And Semper ubi sub ubi is always a fun Latin joke. In case you didn’t know, it is translated as, “Always wear underwear.”

So there you have it. While figuring out the intricacies of launching a greeting card and art business, I kept body and soul together by editing courses aimed at the edification of people in various situations who were prevented from attending a class. Now that is something worthwhile.

I taught piano at that time, too. I was well aware that if I hadn’t had these skills, I would never have been able to leave my job and strike out on my own as I did. Ampersand Cards might just have been a blip on the screen, rather than the vast conglomerate it is today. Lucky. I’ve just been lucky.

“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.” ― T.S. Eliot

“The first draft reveals the art; revision reveals the artist.” ― Michael Lee

“A person who wrote badly did better than a person who does not write at all. A bad writing can be corrected. An empty page remains an empty page.” ― Israelmore Ayivor, How You Can Write Your Dream Book

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

2 thoughts on “Keeping Body & Soul Together

  1. You are totally delightful!! You are also incredibly resourceful. You also taught piano? You are a braver person than I am Gunga Din. I taught piano for a little while and found myself wanting to jump off the nearest bridge. I stuck to just playing it. I also love your books.

  2. Yes, Scott, in fact, I currently teach piano! Love the kids and the adults. I feel like the kids keep me young and laughing. Thank you for your nice comments. Love the Gunga Din reference! I have used that from time to time, too.

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