Although I grew up devouring pretty much every book I got my hands on, it never occurred to me as a kid that I'd become a professional writer, much less an editor.
In elementary school, my illegible penmanship kept me from writing the whirl of words inside my head; in middle and high school, the strict template of the five-sentence paragraph, not to mention the horror of diagramming sentences, convinced me I was so bad at writing that I avoided all universities requiring essays on their applications. In fact, it wasn’t until Freshman year in college when an exasperated English professor explained why and how I received a good grade that I first recognized my talent for the written word. When I then began writing for the college newspaper, my $25 payment per article only added to the thrill I felt seeing “By Janet Parenti” in actual print.
The Story of an Editor
After earning my undergrad and graduate degrees, and several Office Space jobs later, I stumbled upon the professional role I didn’t know I was looking for: Editor of a Magazine. By this point in my personal life, I was a married mother of three living in rural Pennsylvania where the excitement of my day was an Amish buggy sighting. My freelance writing career, which I'd squeezed somewhere between diaper changes and dinner prep, led me to a proofreading gig at a magazine published in the mid-sized city of Lancaster, PA.
I was immediately hooked. Much like the thrill of my printed byline in college, getting paid to read a magazine in a gorgeous downtown office – with the goal of spotting typos and errors! – felt like a rom-com job dream come true.
The magazine was called Fig, and my role there grew quickly from proofreader to writer, writer to content editor. When life presented the opportunity to return home to South Carolina, I knew that the magazine was somehow coming with me. Using every skill in my arsenal, I embarked on a one-woman campaign that included researching Columbia as a viable market, convincing the magazine’s owners to open an outpost in South Carolina, and launching a new magazine in a city where I’d first landed 15 years earlier.
From 2013 to 2017, I served as editor of Fig Columbia, an all-encompassing role that stretched me both personally and professionally in ways I never envisioned. The skills I acquired, the people I met, and the challenges I overcame during my tenure at Fig left me breathless but ready to take on pretty much anything life brought my way.
Ten years later, that time is a touchstone reminding me there is nothing I can’t do when I put my mind to it. The sense I have now embarking on the next phase of my professional journey is one of calm excitement. As I consider my skills, interests, and relationships, I am more grateful than ever for this life, my God-given talents, and the quiet certainty that I’m on the right path.