Why you can trust me with your work

Giving your work to an editor is scary. I get it. I really do.

You’ve labored over something, thought about it for a long time, made an enormous effort to organize your thoughts and transform them into a coherent, well-structured text. And then you send it to a stranger, perhaps the first person who will look at it besides you, who will read it, change it, and leave her thoughts along the way. What is to say that an editor is not going to make your text worse? Why would you trust someone with it?

As someone who has several publications to her name, I understand this feeling. I’ve always been very reluctant to send my work out for commenting or correction. As an editor therefore, I am always humbled by the trust my clients bestow on me by sending me their manuscripts and allowing me to work on them.

I want to assure you that good editors do not betray that trust. As an editor, I follow three principles to make sure that your work is in safe hands: I am careful, transparent, and flexible. I am stealing these three principles from Carol Fisher Saller’s The Subversive Copyeditor, pp. 14–16. I purchased this book a while ago and we’re currently reading parts of it in my copyediting course at Queens University, Canada.

To be careful means that before I even start working on your manuscript, we clearly define the scope of my work together. Do you want me to improve your language and expression or just your grammar? What style should I use? Do you want me to format your headings? It means that I always use track changes so that you can see exactly what I’ve done and can accept or reject it.

To be transparent means that if I have to make a decision that affects the entire manuscript (about capitalizing headings, for example) and that we didn’t discuss beforehand, I contact you before I go ahead. It means that I will explain any changes I made if they’re not obvious. It means that for larger manuscripts, I will keep a style sheet where I record all decisions I made in relation to spelling, style, punctuation, and so on, and I share this with you when the job is finished.

Finally, to be flexible means that I will listen to you and negotiate. If a term shouldn’t be capitalized according to the style we are using, but you have a reason for writing it in that way, I will listen. If you don’t agree with a change I made, let’s talk about it. It is your work, at the end! My job is to make your writing accurate, consistent, and correct.

So, please don’t be afraid to send me your work, I promise that I will respect it and treat it the way I would want my own work to be treated!

The story of my PhD in one article: free download.

I defended my PhD in May 2016. Before embarking on my postdoc in Lebanon in November 2016, I spent a few months looking for jobs and working on publications (you can check the most recent ones here and here). Among these was one article that tells the main story of my PhD, and that I planned to submit to the journal Antipode. It tells the story of how a large amount of capital found its way into Lebanon’s real estate and banking sectors after the global financial crisis of 2008, constituting a direct and indirect “spatial fix,” a term by David Harvey that I’ve discussed before.

During my postdoc, I worked on a draft and submitted it in June 2017. Five months later, I got four peer reviews back, and the news that I should do major revisions. The peer reviews were quite helpful in getting the article into better shape, and even though I was self-employed by then, I spent many hours revising the article and getting it into shape. I resubmitted it at the end of April 2018.

In July, I got four more reviews back from the same reviewers. While they were very satisfied with the revisions, some wanted me to engage more with the theory. At this point, it had been over two years since I defended my PhD. I decided that I would no longer spend time on the article and retracted it after mulling over my options for a few months. The people at Antipode were very nice about it and I decided to publish the article on my blog, to make it freely available to everyone interested in the story of my PhD. Please download it here or read it below! Anyone who can spot an error gets a free copyedit (up to 5,000 words)! An author can’t do her own proofreading 🙂

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Two new articles published on gentrification in Beirut, Lebanon.

Last month, two articles that had been in the making for a while (welcome to the world of academic publishing) finally came out in the journal CITY. I authored one of them by myself, an opinion piece that constitutes my final two cents on the entire postcolonial urbanism debate in the context of gentrification and rent gaps. A friend has likened it to me putting a chainsaw to some of the postcolonial critique, so do read it if you enjoy polemics! The other article was co-authored with the formidable Dr. Mona Fawaz and Daria El Samad, and discusses the relationship between gentrification and property using the case study of the Mar Mikhael quarter in Beirut.

The single-authored article is called “Gentrification and the creation and formation of rent gaps” and free e-prints are available here and on my Academia page.

The co-authored piece is titled “A property framework for understanding gentrificationOwnership patterns and the transformations of Mar Mikhael, Beirut” and has free e-prints available here. If these run out (only 50 are provided), contact me via email or Twitter to request a copy.

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I am now a member of Editors Canada!

Excited to announce that I’m now a member of Editors Canada (check out my awesome member badge at the About me page)! I have my own listing in the directory and have explored the many benefits that membership brings, including a long list of resources, training documents, and guidebooks; courses for continuous professional development; discounts on style guides, courses, and events; and of course networking opportunities such as conferences and local meet-ups. Eventually, experienced editors can qualify for certification through an exam. I’m not there yet, but as I’ve mentioned earlier, I have registered for a copyediting course at Queens University, Toronto, that begins in thirteen days!

A busy, interesting summer and some editing training up ahead!

It’s been a busy summer! I have worked on a number of large projects, including the brochure of the Lebanese pavilion at the Venice Biennale and some developmental edits of PhD-theses, and I’ve also learned some skills involved in digital ethnography by working for MotivIndex, a consumer research company based in Toronto. That was fun and a nice change from the editing work, which I have drowned in this summer (not that that’s a bad thing, but I must say I am glad that I’m finally able to breathe again, even though it’s just a little bit).

After (almost) completing two large developmental editing jobs recently, I have learned that this type of editing is very draining but also very rewarding. It takes so much effort and concentration to put myself in the author’s shoes, understand what story they are trying to tell, and suggest how that message, story, or argument can be conveyed in the clearest, most engaging, and best-structured way. While the effort is considerable, once I see how I can help improve the structure, flow, or argument of the text, I love sharing my insights with the author to see if they agree with me, and making a plan to move forward. There’s nothing better than a happy, satisfied client. Every writer benefits from  a fresh pair of eyes for their text, myself included. While it is definitely not the only type of editing that I want to do, I definitely want to keep offering this service.

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Tips to stay mentally healthy as a PhD-student

In October last year, I published a blog post with tips for staying mentally healthy as a PhD-student. You can find the original here. I wrote it for the blog Pubs and Publications, a great resource for PhD-students, by PhD-students.

“The mental health of PhD-students is an increasing cause for concern. A recent study conducted in Belgium found that one third of PhD-students was at risk of developing a common psychiatric disorder like depression. Unfortunately, this does not surprise me. The rise of mental health problems among PhD-student populations has been attributed to increasing job insecurity, pressure to deliver results before the PhD is finished, and the isolation that comes with having to produce a dissertation by oneself. While I cannot present easy, clear-cut solutions to these problems, there are ways to decrease your risk of developing mental health problems, and to ensure that you seek help in time. I, for one, wish I had known these things when I started my PhD! Continue reading

The contradictions of capital investment in the built environment.

While not everyone might associate the work of David Harvey or Neil Smith, two Marxist geographers, with poetry, I must say that while reading their work, I was very often struck by its poetic quality. Consider this quote:

“Capital represents itself in the form of a physical landscape created in its own image” (Harvey, 1978, p. 124)

How did these geographers end up with sentences that carried such literary quality?

Both Harvey and Smith, Harvey’s PhD-student, tried to understand the relationship between capital and space from a Marxist perspective, and focused especially on the built environment. As it turns out, the built environment presents capitalists with an inherent contradiction: they need it, but once it has been created, it presents barriers to further accumulation. Continue reading