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Book Review: The Urban Monk by Pedram Shojai

The Urban Monk by Pedram Shojai book cover

By Jaye Marsh

In general, North Americans are stressed, overweight, stuck to our desks, and disconnected from the world we live in. With The Urban Monk, Pedram Shojai attempts to help us address these issues by offering tools, including online resources and email support, to “hack” a more balanced lifestyle.

I really wanted to like this book, but it was a challenge. The writing style is the culprit here, not the content. I was pulled out of the messaging, and the information to be gleaned here, too many times not to mention it.

The Urban Monk reads as if the publishers are Millennials/Generation Y or whatever generalization is currently en vogue. Our supposed readers are the ever-taxed and ever-busy 30- to 45-year-olds replete with children, mid-career angst, mortgages, housing problems, and stuff problems, and are in need of a current version of Zen to help them find a way to sanity that allows for who they are rather than completely. To that end, this book has its place, but it ignores a huge segment of depleted populace in need of help: those who don’t live an urban lifestyle. None of the case studies offered in the book take place in non-traditional settings like freelancing, consider people juggling multiple jobs, or explore those facing financial struggles.

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Editorial Two-Step: The Author-Editor Relationship

When: Tuesday, September 25, 7–9 PM

NEW, TEMPORARY LOCATION: CSI Regent Park, 585 Dundas St. East, Room 1

Welcome back to Editors Toronto, and a special welcome to any new or returning members.

Editors Canada turns 40 this year, and we are thrilled to mark this big round number with another season of programming designed to inspire and keep us all learning and growing together as editors of the written word.

For the first program of 2018–19, we bring you two fascinating case studies on the editorial process and the editorial relationship.

Toronto author Trevor Cole and his editor Jennifer Lambert of HarperCollins Canada will discuss their work on Cole’s award-winning non-fiction book The Whisky King (2017), while Toronto author Robert Marrone and his editor Michael Mirolla of Guernica Editions will explore Marrone’s 2017 novel, The New Vine.

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Thank you to our volunteers in 2017–18!

Editors Toronto is part of a national professional association run by and for its members. Everything you see, read, and attend is organized and co-ordinated by volunteers.

During the 2017–18 season we had over 60 unique volunteers, many of them volunteering on more than one occasion. Volunteers are vital to the success of Editors Toronto. Everything we do is possible because of our volunteers. Thank you for your time, your positive attitude, and your willingness to serve this branch. This is truly a team effort.

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Book Review: The Art of Stopping Time: Practical Mindfulness for Busy People by Pedram Shojai

Art of Stopping Time

By Emma Warnken Johnson

Mindfulness is everywhere these days. There seems to be an endless supply of books, articles, and apps touting its benefits. The practices vary, but they all seek to focus the mind on the present moment, shedding distractions and helping us appreciate the little things in our lives. I’ve been meaning to try mindfulness for quite some time, but never seem to be able to fit it into my busy schedule.

This makes The Art of Stopping Time: Practical Mindfulness for Busy People a timely book for me, and I suspect it will be for a lot of other busy editors too. Taoist monk and Qi Gong master Pedram Shojai adapts the 100-day Gong—a traditional Taoist practice—to create a mindfulness routine that can fit into a busy schedule. The book is divided into 100 short chapters, and each one describes a brief daily activity that promotes mindfulness and a healthier relationship to the way we think about and spend our time.

The activities vary widely. Readers are asked to do some breathing exercises, to stretch and relax their muscles, and to eat a meal without the distraction of other activities (like watching TV). Some days include simple activities designed to give your mind a short break, like going for a walk, taking a bath, or making a cup of tea—and several of these seem tailor-made for an editor who takes regular breaks to improve productivity. Other days are more reflective, asking you to think about how you spend their time and review your priorities. Reading through the activities, I found several that I thought I would enjoy and could easily integrate into my daily schedule. (more…)

An evening with Michael Redhill and Martha Kanya-Forstner

by Joanne Haskins

Editors Toronto hosted a special branch meeting in January, when acclaimed author Michael Redhill took the stage with his editor, Martha Kanya-Forstner, to discuss the writing and editing of Bellevue Square, the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner.

Redhill’s novels include Consolation (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize) and Martin Sloane (a finalist for the Giller Prize). He has written a novel for young adults, four collections of poetry and two plays. Redhill also writes a series of crime novels under the name Inger Ash Wolfe and is an editor and Editors Canada member. Kanya-Forstner is editor-in-chief for both Doubleday Canada and McClelland & Stewart. Along with Redhill’s prizewinner, she’s edited David Chariandy’s novel Brother, which won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and James Maskalyk’s Life on the Ground Floor, winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.
There were few empty seats and the audience of writers, writing students and editors anticipated an enlightening discussion as two of the most highly regarded figures in Canadian literature today promised to reveal the ins and outs of the editor-writer working relationship. The biggest takeaway of the evening for editors was “Ask questions.”

 

After introductions of both Redhill and Kanya-Forstner, each discussed their process as writer/writer-editor, and editor. The respect they had for each other was evident throughout the discussion as they listened carefully to one another, built upon each other’s responses, and focused on each other’s strengths and abilities to bring the best of the writer’s words to the page. (more…)

Joining Editors Canada forged my path!

by Ann Kennedy

I joined Editors Canada as a student affiliate looking for opportunities to network with “real live” editors. I was partway through the Editing Certificate program at George Brown College and already thinking past graduation. Three years on, I don’t remember my exact Google search term, but I was thrilled to discover that the 2015 Editors Canada conference—their first international one, no less—was taking place in Toronto. I’m an old hand at conference planning, having worked at the local NXNE Music Festival and Conference for nine years, so I jumped at the chance.

I had no qualms about joining the organization in order to volunteer with it. I recognized the enormous potential for meeting people who could definitely advise me in my new career. And the Editors Canada website promised all manner of other benefits to members, too.

I’m so glad I did.

Volunteering at the registration desk was the ideal way to learn who was who in the editing world. I quickly found out that editors are an extraordinarily friendly and supportive group. My Facebook friend list doubled after the conference!

I went on to volunteer at the Editors Toronto booth at Word On The Street and join a national committee. The student relations committee represents the interests of students and fledgling editors in the association. Our mandate is to raise awareness of the association in editing and journalism programs and grow Editors Canada membership through attracting new student affiliates.

I was also honoured to be asked to join a task force whose goal is to improve access to member services for people who live in remote areas or who cannot access Editors Canada services for other reasons, such as disability.

All of this activity has paid off! I’ve made some great friends and I’ve done two copy editing contracts that were referred to me by members I’d met through volunteering. I highly recommend both joining Editors Canada and volunteering. The more you give of your time and talents, the more you’ll get!

Ann Kennedy is dedicated to reviving the skills and importance of excellent spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax in the digital age. She specializes in biography and memoir, travel literature and plain language.

This article was copy edited by Ambrose Li .

 

Webinar: Starting a freelance editing or writing career

Being a freelancer is much more than working in your pyjamas. For the privilege of setting your own hours, you also have to be your own boss, the sales team, the office manager, the bookkeeper, as well as the employee. Learn how in this seminar, which outlines the basic steps to your dream job.

Part 1: Getting Ready
Part 2: Getting Going

As a result of attending this session, attendees will be able to start their own freelance business. They’ll know how to register for a business name and HST number, how to start marketing their services and what to track for basic bookkeeping and taxes.

This webinar series is geared towards communication professionals at all stages of their career.

Presenter: Christine LeBlanc
Date: Saturdays, May 5 and 12
Time: 12 p.m., EDT / 9 a.m., PDT
Length: Two 1 hour sessions
Language: English
Level: Introductory
Member price: $84
Non-member price: $120
Register HERE

Christine LeBlanc started Dossier Communications in 2005, after a decade in publishing. She has a degree in journalism and a professional certification in marketing.

Twitter: @DossierCom

Book Review: Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau

Side Hustle

(Crown, 2017)

By Jessica Trudel

Do you find your day job fulfilling? If you answered “no,” Side Hustle is for you. If you answered “yes,” Side Hustle is also for you.

That’s what author Chris Guillebeau gets across in the early pages of Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days. “Everyone should have a side hustle. Even if you love your job, having more than one source of income will give you more freedom and more options.”

Who doesn’t want the freedom that more money can bring? And if you could start bringing in more money in less than a month, even better.

Side Hustle outlines Guillebeau’s five-week program to launch a successful side hustle. Besides being a veteran side hustler himself, Guillebeau is also the bestselling author of The $100 Startup.

In his book, Guillebeau targets those people who want to want to make money as entrepreneurs but who aren’t prepared to fully commit to self-employment. Perhaps they like their day job and want to keep it, or perhaps they just aren’t ready to quit yet.

Side Hustle is an easy read. Guillebeau uses accessible language, not jargon, to emphasize that you don’t need an MBA to run a successful side hustle. He includes anecdotes in every chapter, telling stories of regular people who came up with an idea for a side hustle and took immediate action. None of his subjects sat down and wrote out a detailed business plan first.

Still, there isn’t much to learn in Side Hustle if you already have entrepreneurial experience. In fact, some of it may seem downright obvious. Regardless, it’s a good reminder that keeping things simple is often the fastest route to success.

Guillebeau’s writing style is entertaining and inventive. He cleverly transitions between ideas and anecdotes. For example, after sharing an anecdote about one person’s sweater-selling side hustle, Guillebeau writes, “Like sweaters, side hustles are not one size fits all.” He also commits to his metaphors, dedicating seven pages to “the recipe for hustling success” and wrapping it up with, “A recipe is only as good as the finished product you take out of the oven.”

I was impressed with the formatting and organization of the book. It expands on the typical table of contents by including a summary of the 27-day plan with short one-to-two-sentence teasers. These teasers reappear at the beginning of the corresponding chapter, to reinforce the importance of sticking to the plan.

Guillebeau admits that he’s a bit indecisive. “If you’re like me, you may sometimes have trouble choosing among all your different side hustle ideas,” he writes. It feels as though Guillebeau couldn’t decide if he wanted Side Hustle to be a workbook or a textbook. Side Hustle includes a few workbook features: he leaves some room to make notes or answer questions in five places within the book. Since Guillebeau touts that most of the planning in his system can be done “on the back of a napkin,” it seems that he could have made room for planning in every chapter. It would have also been okay for him to leave no room for planning at all. Just make a decision, Chris!

Many editors with day jobs think they have a successful side hustle, but Guillebeau wants readers to understand that a truly successful side hustle brings in “passive income.” Editing is labour-intensive; typically an editor is only paid per hour or per word. Passive income is earned if, for example, you write a book about editing that continues to sell without your ever having to write another word. Guillebeau would encourage a side-hustling editor to find a way to make their hustle more self-sufficient.

Ultimately, Guillebeau’s message is this: “A good side hustle…can help support your life, but it doesn’t have to be your whole life.” I think all of us who dedicate almost every waking minute to writing and editing can all take a little wisdom from that.

Jessica Trudel has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006 and is an outspoken advocate for the arts in Northern Ontario. A mother of four girls, she is also on the board of directors of her local writers’ guild. She recently began hosting LitBulbs on YouTube.

This article was copy edited by Ellen Fleischer.