About Tom Finnegan

I discovered early in life that I was good with words. My earliest distinct recollection seems to be from about age eight:

(Tom:)   “Dad, what’s a ‘auntie Q’?”

(Dad:)   “A what?”

“That word over there, on that sign.”

“Ohhh, ‘antique’! Ha ha! Well, when we get home, ask your mom if she’s an auntie Q!”


Then there was a game of Scrabble with Great-grandma, in which I felt suspicious of her “fryed” (“Like in fryed eggs,” she said, reading the look on my kid face). I let her use it, and win. It seems I was foreordained to be a team player, or at least a sharp (though not irascible) proofreader.

I can’t help it if errors just jump out at me. (See the Bloopers section of this website.)

From grade school spelling bees to a 165-page master’s thesis written in Italian, I’ve always been powerless over taking up a challenge with words and language.

But I love the potential for delight that comes along with attention to human speech and writing. Well, if this is not a convention-bound editor’s website, so be it. Let there be levity! There is joy in seeing language used well . . . and I strive to remain empathic in seeing it used uncritically. (See my approach to querying authors on problems in the Ten Easy Fixes list.)

I’m at a point in my life where I’m intent on combining professional talents with personal passions. (Shouldn’t we all?) From 1993 to 2009, by means of a nonprofit called the Life’s Work Center, founded here in San Francisco in 2000, I conceived, piloted, directed, and facilitated highly innovative counseling programs whose mission was to help people unfulfilled in their working lives find more than just a job. We were unabashed about eliciting commitment from people to do what their lives are calling out for them to do.

I’ve always tried to walk the talk. At the Life’s Work Center, to show how “fields of passion” can (must!) become fields of employment, for a memorable illustration of the process I chose my love of Ducati motorcycles. Years later, I still get emails saying something like “Long time, huh? Hey, Tom, I thought of you yesterday when I saw a Ducati. . . .” This is how people “stumble upon” opportunities that come from “out of the blue” in the fields in which they are kept in mind as being a valuable resource.

Well, the first Ducati-related client paycheck arrived not too long ago, and the next is in the pipeline.

What’s your “Ducati”?

Are you writing about it? If so, I’ll be happy to edit what you write.—TF



full-time freelance editor since 1996

full-time freelance writer 1984–1996

teacher of English as a foreign language to adults, and EFL program director, in Europe 1977–1984

M.A. in Italian from Middlebury College and University of Florence, 1977

B.A. in writing and languages from Sarah Lawrence College in 1976

once-fluent speaker (still-competent reader) of Italian, Modern Greek, French, and German

Why would we want instead to see a photo of editing at a keyboard? Follow your passions, wherever they take you.
(Northern Italy, September 2009)

Thomas Finnegan
Writing & Editing
P.O. Box 460371
San Francisco, CA 94146-0371


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