Content Runner’s team is growing! We’re very proud to introduce Zachary Westall, our new Editor. This guy’s super talented and we’re thrilled to be working with him. I spent an hour or so distracting him from his work and sat down to chat with him. This conversation has been (very) lightly edited for length and clarity.
Tawny: Zach! First of all, welcome to Content Runner. What were you up to before you found us?
Zach: Like many of the denizens of Seattle, I’m a transplant; originally from Miami. Before Content Runner, I was a freelance writer and a barista at a coffee conglomerate that will remain nameless. Before moving to Washington I was teaching English in South Korea.
What drew you to editing? Is that something you’ve always been interested in?
The written word is something for which I’ve always had a passion, so naturally I wanted a job that was centered on writing. That and the inscrutable feeling of power that comes with wielding a red pen.
This might be projecting, and I don’t want to put you on the spot, but in my experience nobody who doesn’t love to read winds up editing for a living. Am I right? Any favorite books at the moment?
Knowing full well that I’ll be labeled as a “nerd,” my go-to is Fantasy literature. Specifically, the works of Robert Jordan, R. Scott Bakker, George R.R. Martin and J.R.R Tolkien, to name a few. But my favorite book ever would have to be 1984.
We’re getting to the good stuff, now. We’re a pretty geeky crowd around here. Think you can keep up?
Given my own predilections towards geek culture, I think so. But who knows? It’s going to be a lot of fun trying, though.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work? Are you secretly a sommelier? Do you rock climb? Perhaps you’re an amateur botanist?
No botany inclinations to speak of, sorry. I do like to rock climb, though. I also really like concerts, playing instruments (poorly), cycling, craft beer, and disc golf.
That’s pretty cool. That sounds like way more fun than those things I made up just now. Speaking of things that are made up, I have a hypothetical question for you. You can have any one super power—BUT—none of the attendant powers that are typically assumed to go with it. For example, you could choose invisibility, but it would only affect you, not your clothes or anything in your hands. Choose wisely.
Hmmmm. That is a tough one. I guess teleportation. It would save me a fortune on travel and I could sleep for much longer. Sleep is a big one for me.
Ooh, good answer. Ok, now for some rapid-fire questions. Just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?
Mac and Cheese. Next.
Favorite television series?
Least favorite ice cream flavor? Don’t be afraid to break some hearts.
Mint chocolate chip. I mean what is that?!
College football. I also really like soccer and hockey.
Ok, last one. You have the distinct (and dubious) pleasure of being interviewed by a fellow editor, which means we get to talk shop, just for a second. What’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to writing? Beyond the basics, like using the wrong “there” or something—I want the thing that never fails to get under your skin. For me, it has to be pluralizing a word with an apostrophe. NEVER DO THAT, YOU GUYS.
The passive voice. It’s an easy pitfall to avoid, and yet writers constantly fall victim to its clutches. Often, when writers slip into the passive voice, their work isn’t as strong as it could be. The passive voice also lends itself to overly verbose prose. It bogs the reader down and detracts from the piece. DON’T DO IT!
All right, I’ve taken up enough of your time now. Thanks for sitting down with me and willingly subjecting yourself to my attempts at humor. You laughed in all the right places! Again, welcome to the team. We’re glad to have you.