What’s On My Desk

an editor's desk, NorthernEditoral

Getting to know your editor – what’s on my desk

There’s no getting away from the fact that we like to see how others live, work and play. It can be interesting and allows us to understand how diverse our lives really can be. For instance, right this minute I am sitting with my laptop on my knee, there’s a large window behind me and outside it is bucketing down with rain. The only sounds I can hear above the tapping of the keys on my keyboard are the raindrops hitting the window, the rain whistling around the countryside, the occasional car driving past and the soft snuffling snore of two elderly collies. How different is that from what you are doing right now?

So rather than write my usual type of post I’m going to show you what is on my desk right now (be warned, it isn’t all work stuff!). Only, as I’m sitting comfortably in my living room and working from there, I’m going to go through everything currently sitting beside me in a heap on my sofa and neatly place it on a desk before taking a photo. On my daughter’s lovely neat desk as my desk is, as usual, piled high (I really, really need to tidy up!).

Here, in no particular order, in the spirit of ‘getting to know your editor’, are the tools of my trade – what’s on my desk.

  • My laptop

I couldn’t work without it! (well I could, but I’d sulk)

an editor's desk, a cup of coffee

  • A cup of coffee

Ok, ok, it may be a cliché but it’s true. I’m onto my fourth of the day, black and instant (I stopped drinking a lot of ‘real’ coffee when I hit eight strong mugs a day and started to shake by 4 p.m.).

  • My ipad

Not just for checking Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, and keeping in touch with my colleagues in the SfEP – I use my ipad the way a lot of editors use a second computer screen. It’s great for fact checking and comparing PDFs with the copy that I’m proofreading or editing. Only it isn’t in the photo as that’s what I’m snapping the scene with.

  • A clipboard containing copious notes

I like to write things down when I’m talking to clients (or emailing them) because I find the process of writing cements their needs in my brain. I frequently check my notes and add progress, style choices and other lists to the pile before adding them to a computer document.

an editor's desk, reference books

  • My most often referred to books

The Penguin Guide to Punctuation (great for those niggly bits)

Butcher’s Copy-editing (a must!)

The New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors (great for quickly dipping into)

I also use an online dictionary, Fowler’s Modern English Usage and Hart’s Rules a hell of a lot for quickly checking spellings, hyphenation and word breaks.

  • Some books relevant to my latest jobs

Your House Style SfEP Guide (I was creating a company style guide and didn’t want to miss anything out)

Medieval underpants and other blunders by Susanne Alleyn (for a book I was critiquing – which was wonderful even if I didn’t need to use this reference book)

an editor's desk, books on writing

  • A whole heap of writing books

These are primarily for my A363 course with the OU, but there are a few I’ve been reading too:

So you want to be a playwright? by Tim Fountain

Voices from the Asylum by Mark David (a present from my Mum as we have similar reading tastes, and it’s brilliant!)

Myslexia Indie Presses 2016/17 (a good reference for work and play)

The art of screenplays: a writer’s guide by Robin Mukherjee

The craft of fiction by Jonathan Falla

A creative writing handbook by Derek Neale

  • My notebooks

A girl has to have notebooks.

an editor's desk, notebooks

  • Notes and handouts from the SfEP conference

I will get around to looking at them once this batch of jobs is over and I get the time. Honestly.

  • A packet of still unopened skittles

I’d like to say I’ve been good, but I’ve been too busy eating chocolate and doughnuts to open them.


So there you have it. These are the things I am surrounded by on a daily basis. And if you don’t believe that this beautifully laid out scene isn’t the way I’m working right now, here is the ‘before’ shot:

an editor's messy sofa


A little organised chaos is good for the soul, and it means I can keep an eye on my poorly dog while I’m working (he chewed his way through my laptop cable a couple of weeks back when I was up in my office, and I don’t want a repeat of that!).

I hope you’ve found this ‘getting to know your editor’ post interesting. Let me know if there are other aspects of an editor’s working life you’d like to explore. How do you work? Are you neat and tidy with only online resources and a kindle, or are you, like me, surrounded by books, paper and coffee?



2 Comments on “What’s On My Desk

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