Nancy Birn Struckman has worked as an editor and proofreader for over twenty-five years, including as a managing editor for a local newspaper. She is currently the manager of Editing for Style, LLC, where she also edits books and monthly blogs, and enjoys working with graduate students on formatting and proofreading their dissertations, theses, final projects, and papers, according to their corresponding style guides. Nancy understands how difficult and stressful finishing theses, dissertations, and final projects can be for students and guides them to their finished project calmly and quickly. She holds a BA in English from SUNY Albany (now UAlbany).
WEX interviewed Nancy to showcase what an incredible editor and human she is!
What do you enjoy about editing?
I’m more of a format / grammar editor, so I delight in the search for correct punctuation, maybe better word choices, and knowing that students can depend on my editing. And, yes, I do find the extra spaces between sentences and all the matching parentheses, correct margin size, and cross-check every citation and reference. Correcting tiny inconsistencies is my forte, e.g., checking that the blue shirt a character is wearing on one page didn’t morph into a yellow shirt on the following page, her hair is still blond, and her name is still spelled the same way.
What is your experience of the dissertation editing process?
For WEX, I usually work with students after they’ve defended their dissertations and serve as a format and grammar editor, as well as editing before defense.
When working with students during the entire process, beginning with their proposal, I spend time confirming with the students that they’re not under- or over-explaining key words, phrases, or ideas in their specific fields. I don’t need to understand students’ research, so I can work in disparate fields, but the student should be able to explain their work.
In your opinion, what constitutes as good editing?
Providing the assistance a student needs, whether it’s formatting, grammar, content, or a push toward more academic writing, where the student is comfortable knowing their “baby” is in good hands.
What have been your favorite projects to have worked on? What are your current projects?
My favorite projects are varied: MFA Creative Writing novels and projects, dissertations in four programs plus hourly students . . . the list goes on . . . but I love to read a dissertation or novel on a subject I haven’t studied or seen before. I’m currently working on a dissertation for a student whose first language isn’t English, and outside of WEX, I’m editing a second non-fiction book for an author (the first was an historical spiritual mystery) and a short series of children’s books.
What is your favorite quote?
To crib from the Dalai Lama, “If you think small things don’t matter, try sharing a tent with a mosquito.”