We’re running a series of interviews to introduce you all to our wonderfully talented group of independent indexers and taxonomists who enable us to say “yes” to the variety of project types and turnaround times our clients are looking for. Today, we’d like you to get to know our talented book indexer, Rebecca McCorkle.
PI: How long have you been an associate at Potomac Indexing?
I have been an associate at Potomac Indexing since 2013.
PI: Tell us your indexing (or other information access system) origin story. All superheroes, including indexers, have an origin story.
I have a bachelor’s degree in both psychology and sociology. I worked as a paralegal for awhile after college, thinking I might want to go to law school, but eventually decided it wasn’t for me. After that I got a job as a certified pharmacy technician and did that for almost six years. I got to the point where I really wanted something different, in particular something where I could have more freedom over my own schedule. I also wanted something mobile that I could do from anywhere. I jumped on the Internet one day, not really knowing what I was looking for, and I found indexing. It sounded perfect for me, and within a week I had joined ASI and had started the ASI training course. It took me about a year to get through it, and afterwards I did Enid Zafran’s indexing boot camp. This was in 2011 and since that time I have had a constant flow of work, and I love being an indexer!
PI: What are your specialties and/or favorite subjects?
I index a mixture of both scholarly books and textbooks on a wide range of topics, and I find I really enjoy the variety that gives me. My favorite subjects to index are history, psychology, and anything medical-related.
PI: Pick one of your favorite subjects and tell us why it fascinates you.
I have always had a great love for history, particularly anything involving cross-cultural studies. I find it fascinating to study different cultures, which is probably one of the reasons I enjoy traveling so much. I enjoy learning about different ways of life and experiencing the history, food, art, and music of other people and places.
PI: What’s your best productivity or indexing secret tip (that you are willing to share, that is)?
When I first started indexing, I would agonize over things such as word choice and phrasing for entries. I finally learned to just get something down and to make a note to revisit it later. I feel like this has made me more productive and has allowed me to move through the text at a better pace.
PI: What do you consider the most challenging aspect of the work?
I think the most challenging aspect for me was adjusting to being self-employed. For someone who has never worked out of a home office before it takes great self-discipline and motivation.
As far as indexing itself, I think the most challenging part for me is at the start of a new project. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming depending upon the subject matter.
PI: Where do you usually work? (Please include a photo of your office setup unless it’s a secret superhero location)
I always say I have two offices. I have my daytime office, which is my desk in the actual office. Then I have my evening office, which is the oversized chair in the living room where I like to sit and work on my laptop in the evenings. It is especially nice with the fireplace going on a cold evening.
PI: Talk about your process (and this can be for book indexing or other related projects, like keyword tagging, embedded indexing, etc.). Any advice for other professionals—new and experienced?
Depending upon my level of familiarity with the subject matter, I may spend some time doing a bit of research before beginning to index. Usually after that I will make one pass while vetting the book. This gives me a good overview of what topics will be discussed later on. I then make my second pass which is where I am indexing for detail. Once I am finished I have an editing process for which I have made myself a checklist.
I always find it so interesting to attend conferences and workshops and hear about the different processes used by different indexers. I often return home and incorporate some of those various elements into my process, especially things I think will help make me more efficient.
PI: What are your favorite/most-used tools, for indexing or other business purposes?
I find my Merriam-Webster dictionary and thesaurus apps to be incredibly helpful, especially if I am working in the car or someplace where I don’t have Internet access at the moment.
PI: CINDEX, SKY or Macrex (or other)? What do you like best about your choice?
I use CINDEX. It just made the most sense to me and really appealed to my sense of organization. Over the years I have learned to use many of the shortcut features which, in my opinion, are great time savers.
PI: If you could only recommend one book about indexing, what would it be?
I have found Noeline Bridge’s Indexing Names to be a great resource when confronted with challenges regarding name entries.
PI: Where’s the neatest location you’ve ever worked in?
Probably on the beach in Belize with a pina colada sitting next to me.
PI: Where do you live (just approximately, since this will be published on the Web)? And if you like, tell us a bit about your surroundings and folks you live with (including furry friends) if you wish.
I live in east central Illinois. Sometimes it feels like the middle of nowhere; however, it is 20 minutes from a couple of larger towns. I enjoy the peace and quiet, and also little things like seeing deer in the back pasture or walking outside at night and being able to see the stars. Also, it is equidistant from three major airports if I decide I need to get away!
I live with my wonderful boyfriend of ten years, and the only furry friend we have is the giant bear rug in the living room!
PI: Tell us about your hobbies. Are there specific ones you turn to as a break from work, or any that are a special treat in between or at the end of projects?
I am a huge sports fan, so during the winter it is all about college basketball (go Duke!) and in the summer it is all about baseball (go Braves!).
During spring and summer I do a lot of gardening. We have a small greenhouse and a huge garden out back that seems to keep getting larger every year. I love to cook with all of our fresh ingredients!
My greatest passion, however, is travel. I have always wanted to see the world. Indexing has given me freedom and portability and has allowed me the opportunity to do some amazing things in the last few years. One of the biggest was back in 2015 when I was able to spend three weeks in India and fulfill my childhood dream of seeing the Taj Mahal. I spent a couple weeks in Ireland last year and am looking forward to visiting Scotland later in 2017.
PI: What’s the last book you read for fun?
I am currently in the process of reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed the movies and have always wanted to read the books.
PI: What’s your superpower?
I would say my superpower is my memory. I have always had a freakishly good memory, even if I’m not trying to remember things. It comes in very handy for indexing when I need to go back to something and usually know right where the information is located.
PI: Thanks so much, Rebecca!
Rebecca McCorkle began indexing in 2011 upon completion of the ASI training course and Enid Zafran’s boot camp. She is the owner of Prairie Indexing Services where her focus is primarily on scholarly books and textbooks. Rebecca graduated summa cum laude from McKendree University with a bachelor’s in psychology and sociology. She currently resides in central Illinois.