I’m Andrea, a lover of words and ideas and how the two interact. I live in Hamilton, New Zealand, where I tinker with words and tidy them until the message stands out elegantly.
Once upon a time I found myself writing in the London offices of New Scientist. I was in the web section for a while. The web editor got sick of moving the speech marks in the copy I gave him each day. It went something like this:
“Andrea, the speech marks go outside the punctuation at the end of the speech.”
“Oh! Is that how you do it here?” I replied.
The inside of me turned scarlet. “Oh … I can’t believe I didn’t know.”
I’ve appreciated his honesty ever since.
Not knowing what you don’t know
How had I not noticed the correct speech mark location, and why had nobody previously pointed out my error? In the previous two years I’d finished my DPhil at Oxford University and been runner-up in two fairly major science writing competitions. I’d been in the top five percent of the country in English in my final year at school. I’d read a thousand books.
Later, the web editor’s offsider told me that I was a good writer and my copy was much better than a lot of what they received. I needed that boost! That and my subsequent 16 years have shown me that most people — including the super-smart ones — need help with the mechanics of writing. They either don’t like those details, don’t care, or, as was the case with me, have a few weaknesses that escape their attention.
Since those New Scientist days, writing’s been my livelihood. I returned home to New Zealand, enchanted by the world of science writing I’d discovered, and worked as a communicator for a medical research institute and then as a freelance writer.
Having completed a New Zealand Writers’ College copy-editing and proofreading course, which taught me about more details I’d been unaware of, I now thrive on helping to craft excellence in other peoples’ writing.
I turn my attention to every detail of your writing, including the errors that you don’t know you’ve got. I believe the reader’s experience is the highest priority. I promise to make the hodgepodge of letters, spaces and punctuation marks that is our written language deliver your message to your readers simply and clearly.