"Oh, you're an editor? I could never sit at my desk and correct people's grammar all day."
Of the responses I've received from people who find out I am an editor, this was one of my favorites. While other answers varied in their wording, most were along the same lines. People seem confused by my desire to be an editor and either think it bores me out of my mind or that I get some sort of pleasure in telling people that their grammar is wrong.
Is editing boring at times? I won't lie. It sometimes is! There is a great sense of satisfaction I get from a nicely edited piece of work, though. To me, editing is so much more than telling people their grammar is wrong or slaving over the subject-verb agreement in a sentence.
So, why am I an editor? The first reason is simply because it appeals to my sense of order. When I read a story that has all the commas in place, homophones used correctly, and periods inside the quotation marks, it just feels right to me. That may seem weird to some people, but "to each his own," right? I think that proper grammar usage is a dying art, almost, so being able to improve (not correct!) an author's story by fixing grammatical errors makes me feel like an artist who is putting the finishing touches on a masterpiece. When I read through a novel that has a great storyline but lacks proper punctuation, I truly feel like something is missing from the story. Being able to put the finishing touches on punctuation, spelling, grammar, and other mechanics is like icing and decorating a delicious cake. You just know that the cake is going to taste great, but the extra flourishes that are put on with the decorations are what really make it that much better. That's what editing is to me. It's going the extra mile to make something great turn into something spectacular.
Along the same lines, I love helping authors create their best possible story. I love being able to point out where extra details could be added to take a moment of a story to the next level so a reader can really relate to what is going on. I love asking questions from the reader's point of view to help an author see what might be going through a reader's mind. As an editor, I throw myself wholeheartedly into a project and try to show an author that we are in this together. I do not return a project to an author unless I, myself, would be proud to publish the piece with my name attached to it.
So, yes, I am an editor. I love the sense of order that comes from a novel that is correctly punctuated, and I do actually get a little bit of a thrill when I send in a completed story that I feel was improved by my meticulous eye.
Finally, as for the "sit at my desk" part of people's assumption, the joke is on them. I rarely sit at my desk! It turns out that the floor, my comfy bed, and the sofa work just fine with today's modern technology!
So, the next time someone tells you that he or she is an editor, instead of assuming he is a boring person who simply likes to be right when others are wrong, ask him what motivated him to pursue this line of work. You might be surprised by the answer!