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Editors Unplugged: Get to know our panellist for Making Smart Choices: Which freelance projects are right for you?
Interview conducted by Sandra Otto.
Our popular monthly program meetings often feature a jam-packed agenda. We like to keep our introductions short, so you can hear more from our panellists and less from us! It’s hard to do justice to the incredible wealth of experience these guests bring to the table, so we are offering you a preview with this short Q&A beforehand.
This month, we are honoured to be joined by Michelle Waitzman, who will be talking about ways to evaluate new opportunities, so you can move your career in the direction you want.
Making Smart Choices: Which freelance projects are right for you? is based on her standing-room-only session at the 2019 Editors Canada conference in Halifax (co-presented with Jess Shulman).
Was there a time you stepped outside your comfort zone and loved it?
To be honest, I don’t find my “comfort zone” all that comfortable because I’m easily bored. As a result, I’m always pushing outside of it. The biggest leap I’ve taken out of my comfort zone was the most rewarding. In 2005, I moved from Toronto to Wellington, New Zealand, where I had no job lined up and no friends or family. I loved it there and stayed for seven years (and met my now-husband)! But professionally speaking, I think as a freelancer you sometimes need a “fake it till you make it” attitude. I often apply for “moonshot” gigs because you never know when someone will say yes. For example, I responded to a job posting for writing biographical material in the computer science field. I have no computer science background, and the only bios I’d written before were short website blurbs. I got the gig, and so far I’ve had the opportunity to write 15,000-word biographies of five fascinating people who’ve all won the highest honour in computer science, the A.M. Turing Award.
Date: Tuesday, January 28, 7:00 – 9:30 pm
Location: Viola Desmond Room (3rd floor) at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), 192 Spadina Ave.
In 2020, get the jobs you really want and stop working on projects you might regret later. Michelle Waitzman’s Making Smart Choices: Which freelance projects are right for you? is based on her standing-room-only session at the 2019 Editors Canada conference in Halifax (co-presented with Jess Shulman).
The discussion will include ways to methodically evaluate new opportunities, so you can move your career in the direction you want. Bring a pen and paper (or your favourite device), and you’ll leave with a game plan for the year ahead. In this interactive presentation, we’ll crowdsource ideas and share experiences. Whether you are just starting out as a freelancer or have decades of experience, Michelle will get you thinking about what you’d love to work on and what you’d rather avoid.
by Indu Singh
In the first chapter of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, the author poses a challenge to his readers: go a week without writing any of the words out of a list of what he considers pointless adverbs, including very, rather, really, quite, just, so, surely, of course, and in fact. However, Dreyer singles out one adverb for his most extreme dare: “Feel free to go the rest of your life without another ‘actually.’”
According to Dreyer we are all writers now—we write blog entries, term papers, social media posts, emails, memos, product reviews—and he wants us to be better at it. He attempts to not only guide but also bully, cajole, amuse, and even challenge (as demonstrated above) the readers into becoming stronger and more effective communicators on paper and screen. He believes that if he can at least convince us to give up some of these ineffectual adverbs—these “Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers”—he will have automatically transformed us into better writers by the end of the week.
As a practising copy chief for Random House, Dreyer earns his living by polishing others’ work, and his feelings about his profession run the gamut from pragmatism to passion. “On a good day, [copy editing] achieves something between a really thorough teeth cleaning…and a whiz-bang magic act.”
by Catherine Dorton and Paul Ling
On Tuesday, October 22, Editors Toronto hosted a lively panel discussion with comics anthology editor Allison O’Toole, cartoonist Megan Kearney, and TO Comix Press founder Steven Andrews.
These three industry pros were full of ideas and inspiration for comic book creators, anthology curators, editors, and anyone else interested in breaking into the field. They introduced us to some trends, including the explosion of sales in comics, new publishing imprints dedicated to graphic novels, and self-publishing opportunities. They made sure we knew what counts as a comic (hint: it isn’t merch!) and what kinds of stories readers are hungry for (lesson #1: not capes). According to the trio, superhero comic sales are down, while emotionally complex, historical, and pop culture content is on the rise. Also, the growing landscape of new artists is wonderfully diverse, expanding the field for audiences of all ages, ethnicities, abilities, and orientations.
Next, the panellists outlined the roles an editor might play in all stages of the publishing process, from gathering the material to editing the story and art to creating publishing schedules and resolving disputes. (So editors of comics need to be flexible and comfortable in various roles!)
by Michelle Waitzman
Editors sometimes have fun sharing—and inventing—collective nouns for various groups of creatures or people. When it comes to editors themselves, I propose to call the group “a generosity of editors.” When they gather in large (or even modest) numbers, editors are exceedingly generous with their knowledge, experience and wisdom. I was reminded of this recently when I attended the second annual Toronto mini-conference presented by the UK-based Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) and organized by Maya Berger, Kelly Lamb, Janet MacMillan, and Rachel Small. Their first generous act was allowing non-members to attend an event with very limited space, and even providing a discount for Editors Canada members. This type of cross-association cooperation is becoming the norm, and it benefits editors around the world.
The day consisted of five sessions featuring presenters from the UK, the US, and Canada. (The previous day, an editor and business coach from Australia, Malini Devadas, gave a pre-conference workshop aimed at freelance editors.) The topics covered were diverse, but a theme of “working smarter” connected many of them. This theme demonstrated that learning how to edit well is only the first step to becoming a successful editor. Editing skills can be enhanced by learning how to work efficiently, provide more consistent results to clients, and collaborate effectively with other publishing professionals.
Interview conducted by Indu Singh.
A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the Five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.
Please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (and where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.
I live west of Toronto, and I returned to Ontario a few years back, after some 20-odd years working abroad, from Australia to the Middle East, the Far East, the Caribbean, and Europe. Since I used to be a clinical professor, and I’d trained in various surgical specialties, editing insinuated itself into my life because fellow students, and even teachers and professors, would always ask me to check over their work. I suppose there’s a great similarity between dissecting treatises and dissecting tissues; in the end, one gains a reputation for being meticulous and fanatically determined to get the task done thoroughly.
In addition to editing scientific texts—and not just medical texts, either—I do a great deal of work editing business communications, such as letters, business plans, and résumés, since I used to work in private industry as an entrepreneur.
English-French translation, among other modern languages, is another area of work for which I receive many requests. My editing avocation has been going strong for over 25 years, and I retired from clinical practice about five years ago to concentrate on editing full-time [at Perfect English 101].
by Natalia Iwanek
On Tuesday, November 26, we published the first part of a feature on freelance editing as an option for people living with chronic illness or disability. This is the second and last part of that feature. To read Part 1, click here.
The editing community is incredibly diverse. I hope that by highlighting our varied experiences through the following two interviews, I will inspire editors to see how life-changing this career can be.
Jane (not her real name) is a freelance editor with a PhD in a highly specialized field. She describes living with a chronic illness, while freelance editing part-time and working part-time at a research job that sometimes involves writing and editing.
What made you get into editing? Was this a career goal or was it something you naturally gravitated toward over the years?
Editing is something I’ve done on the side since high school. I formalized my editing career as a business after I got laid off from a different job in 2013. Part of the reason why I continue to edit is that I enjoy it, but another reason is that, with my niche skills, it pays well per hour and with minimal effort compared to some other work that I could be doing.
In what ways, if at all, has your illness impacted your editing career? Have you had to overcome any barriers?
I have Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks the digestive system and sometimes other organ systems as well. The medications I’ve been on for the past 15 years have kept most of the worst symptoms under control most of the time, but I still get sick frequently and unpredictably and also suffer from debilitating bouts of fatigue lasting from days to weeks, again at unpredictable intervals.
Crohn’s is a complete career killer. I was unable to pursue a career in academia because of the restrictions it put on my ability to do certain kinds of research (because of the immune-suppressing medications I’m on), to travel easily (because of my inflexible treatment schedule), and to obtain affordable health insurance anywhere other than Canada. (Health insurance for anyone other than full-time, tenure-track faculty often has a yearly cap at around what my medications cost per month.) I worked outside of academia for several years but had a succession of bad bosses who did not abide by the accommodations my doctors outlined. I was pressed to work more than I could handle, ended up on sick leave, and then was punished for it.