UCSD Extension Instructor Profile: Caryn Murray

What course(s) do you teach in the UCSD Extension Copyediting Certificate program?

I have taught CE I, CE II, CE III, and Copyediting with AP Style. I am presently teaching the AP Style class for spring 2022 and will be teaching CE II for summer 2022.

How long have you been teaching there?

My first course was CE I in the winter 2021 quarter.

How did you get involved in the program?

I was recruited by one of the lead instructors who had been a longtime colleague of mine on the news desk at a New York-based daily newspaper.

What is your goal for your students in your course(s)?

First and foremost, I want them to learn to think critically and to solve problems. These courses are not about memorization: Information and guidelines can always be looked up in reference books, such as stylebooks, and needn’t be committed to memory. Instead, we teach the process of editing, which is the experience of editing. “Thinking like an editor” is something that needs to be cultivated and that’s my real goal. I want the students to engage in mental workouts and flex those burgeoning editorial muscles with confidence and sound judgment. Ultimately, they should know when to be hard-hitting with a manuscript and when to proceed with delicacy and restraint, and they should be comfortable doing either because each client of theirs will have different needs.

What kind of feedback have you received and successes have you seen from your students?

A few students have already launched some freelancing careers, and others have taken the leap to apply for staff jobs at companies. They have reached out via email or social media, asking for recommendations or to let me know that the lessons they have learned in the program have given them steadier footing on their journey. That’s the best thing any of us can hope for.

What do you enjoy most about teaching in the program?

Two things stand out for me. One of these is strictly selfish and one is not: There’s the coursework itself, which is an affirmation of all that has happened thus far in my life and career as both a writer and editor. The coursework allows me to underscore my personal commitment to language, clarity, and effective communication. I enjoy gaining deeper understanding of my work, even after all these years. Of course, none of that means anything without the second thing I look forward to in this program: being able to pass all I’ve learned on to the students. It’s not a one-way street, by the way. I learn so much from them in the lively exchanges on the discussion forums or their personal emails. I’m excited to be looped into their personal journeys. That process rekindles for me so much of the excitement that comes in teaching how to massage an author’s narrative to be its very best. Honestly, this stuff never gets old!

What advice do you give students in your course who want to build a copyediting career or business?

I tell them that before they pursue the nuts-and-bolts of business-building and learn the logistics of setting up a business, they should ask themselves some important questions about their lifestyle, their expectations, and their temperament. They should know that “freelancing” doesn’t necessarily equate with “personal freedom.” Instead of having one boss, they may have many bosses, and those bosses will be ever-changing. They should assess the personal, social, and financial sacrifices they may end up having to make. They should also assess how disciplined and structured they are capable of being as both a business owner and a provider of creative services. Finally, I ask them to assess whether their interpersonal skills are up to the task of negotiating contracts, pricing, and other delicate matters.  They need to understand their expectations and what they might have to do to fulfill them.

What else would you like to share with potential students about the value of the program?

It’s a very simple truth that if you don’t try, you don’t learn, and if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t improve. These courses give students plenty of opportunity to do both in a supportive environment. The ultimate value of the program is that they will learn to sharpen their judgment and to trust it.

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