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Editor for Life: Wilf Popoff, freelance editor, owner/founder of Executive Editorial Consultants

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

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 W5: 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.

Wilf Popoff

 

Wilf, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

I edit and write technical material, mainly in law and engineering, disciplines I believe central to our civilization: law fosters its political accord while engineering creates its physical structure. I enjoy having a small role in both camps.

My wife, a non-fiction writer, and I live in Saskatoon, a prairie city with decent libraries and insufferable winters.     

I’ve always been an editor or at least since the last glacier retreated. Volunteering for my university weekly hooked me, and I spent 35 years at two daily newspapers, the Edmonton Journal and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Eventually, I no longer edited copy but supervised a newsroom. But at all levels one is still an editor.

When newspapers began to atrophy and no longer needed me I set up a freelance company. And I’m still editing after more than 55 years.

 

Who: If you could edit one famous author, living or dead, who would it be?

I am in awe of famous authors, but for me reading them can be upsetting. I frequently pause and say, “I could never write anything so brilliant.”

Therefore I would be reluctant to touch the MS [manuscript] of any famous author. Only a brave and confident editor could change something Orwell, Waugh or Atwood wrote. A seemingly unnecessary word may have an artful purpose.  (more…)

Book Review: Make It Happen, by Kari Chapin

(Chronicle Books)

 Make It Happen, by Kari Chapin

By Christine Albert

Time is a commodity that often seems to be in short supply. Recognizing the need for professionals to learn not only how they’re using their time, but also how to work more efficiently, Kari Chapin created Make It Happen: A Workbook and Productivity Tracker for Getting Stuff Done. A business consultant, podcaster, and public speaker, Chapin has also authored two books on growing a creative business and has designed an idea-generation workbook. Having worked for 15 years in marketing and publicity, Chapin understands that time is money—so it’s important to work faster, smarter, and better.

As the title suggests, Make It Happen is not simply a time-tracking tool. Part journal, part productivity tracker, it lets users create schedules, track time spent on various tasks, reflect on their work habits and possibly improve their process. The workbook provides prompts, activity trackers, schedule outlines, and blank notes sections. While some elements repeat (such as the “Make It Happen,” “Break It Down,” “My Time Today,” “I Could Swap,” and double-page reflection prompts), they’re not set in repeating order. Instead, Chapin includes a blank date box on each recto page—a good choice as it allows for greater flexibility. This open-ended design lets users tailor the workbook to their own work style and preferences. (more…)

Report on ACES 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida

By Berna Ozunal

This year, 591 people travelled to St. Petersburg, Florida, for the annual American Copy Editors Society (ACES) conference held from March 23 to 25 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel—the second-highest attendance ever.

I went to St. Pete’s for a few reasons this year: I enjoyed last year’s conference in Portland and learned a lot, I seriously needed to “defrost,” and I was presenting a session.

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, St. Petersburg has a population of just over 250,000. From the Tampa International Airport, it’s just a 30-minute taxi or shuttle ride to the hotel.

I was told that March is the perfect time to travel to Florida, and it’s true. With highs between 24ºC and 28ºC, you are transported to another dimension—one where people do not walk around half the year swaddled like mummies in wool and down. (more…)

David L. Peebles (July 30, 1949–December 3, 2016)

By Avivah Wargon and Ruth Pincoe

Toronto editors and many other friends feel a great sense of loss after the death of David Peebles in December 2016. David was held in great affection and valued for his generous help, his legendary technical knowledge and skills, and his sense of humour. He is also remembered for his meticulous editing of technical material and for his service as chair of EAC’s technology committee in 1999–2000.

Editing was not David’s first career. His interest in how things work showed early on. Shortly after earning a bachelor of science degree, he began a lifelong freelance career, applying his wide range of technical skills to everything from theatre lighting and sound systems to rewiring old houses. David also loved words, as a thumbnail bio shows:

At the back of his filing cabinet David has an honours B.Sc. from the mathematics-physics-chemistry program at the University of Toronto, an unsaleable screenplay, and three awards for short stories. Before it finally dawned on him that he could combine his interests in writing and technology by working as a technical editor, David had operated a radio telescope, helped develop a medical research instrument, designed a slide projector interface for stage lighting systems, and done a wide variety of electrical installations and troubleshooting.

In 1982 David married Ruth Pincoe, an editor and indexer specializing in music and theatre; their shared and complementary interests in words, theatre, hiking, food, and drink made for a rich partnership. In 1997 an in-house colleague and friend called Ruth to offer her a textbook on wiring, saying, “I know you’ll give it to David to do a technical read.” David did much more than that: he went on to a companion book and worked on several supplements. His career as an editor had begun. He quickly became sought after by educational publishers for developmental editing of science, mathematics, and electronics texts. He understood the equations and formulas, and he enjoyed working with authors who appreciated his background knowledge. (more…)

Webinar: What’s wrong with this sentence?

Correct usage of language is paramount to effective communication. The education system—from primary through post-secondary—does not offer students the tools needed for communicating effectively, whether verbally or in writing. The webinar is based on a workshop that was originally developed for the Canadian Authors’ Association national conference, and has since been presented to numerous groups, from university professors to public relations experts to journalists. It returns to the basics of language: when and how to use me, “myself, and I; clarifying appropriate adjectives and adverbs such as effective versus affective; avoiding split infinitives; the possessive apostrophe versus the contractive apostrophe; and dangling modifiers, among many other common usage issues.

The key concept of the webinar is that participants will gain (or possibly regain) a sense of the importance of correct usage of grammar and punctuation in the written and spoken word.

Date: Thursday, May 25
Time: 2 p.m., EDT / 11 a.m., PDT
Length: 1.5 hours
Language: English
Member price: $56.25
Non-Member price: $75
Register HERE

Melanie Scott
Melanie Scott is freelance writer and the editor of the Low Down to Hull and Back News, an award-winning community newspaper based in Wakefield, QC.

Seminar: Intermediate copy editing workshop

This seminar is a hands-on workshop in which you’ll edit actual short manuscripts; the instructor will review the edits in detail with the group, discussing the reasoning behind various edits, alternative choices, and techniques. Throughout the course of the day, you’ll work on several different types of documents, practise using key resources such as dictionaries and style guides, create and follow style sheets, write queries to the author, and discuss the merits of specific editing choices with fellow attendees and the instructor. The session will also include a review of key copy editing guidelines, advice on finding information as you edit, and plenty of pro tips.

You are encouraged to bring
• a laptop computer with word-processing software (paper copies of manuscripts will also be provided) and
• a copy of the second edition of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, if you have one.

Note: This session is not for beginners. Attendees should be graduates of a copy editing course or have equivalent skills and experience (such as editing under the supervision of a senior copy editor for six months or more). Further, attendees should know how to create style sheets and write author queries. (more…)

Webinar: Techniques de révision après traduction

This webinar will focus on the specificities of editing translated material. The key learning objectives of this webinar are English to French consistency, and
key areas of focus in the editing of translated material (e.g., punctuation, syntax, anglicisms, etc.).

Date: Wednesday, May 3
Time: 12 p.m., EDT / 9 a.m., PDT
Length: 1.5 hours
Language: French
Member price: $56.25
Non-Member price: $75
Register HERE

Aude Gwendoline holds a PhD in Translation Studies. She has over 13 years of experience as a French translator/editor. So far, she has translated close to 80 novels for Parisian publishers.

Webinar: A linguist’s guide to grammar

What you learned in English class will help you with syntax about as much as what you learned in driving lessons will help you with mechanics—you get by fine until one day you find yourself stopped in the middle of a sentence with smoke coming out from under the hood. In this webinar, we’re going to learn how to take apart sentences the way a mechanic takes apart an engine.

The key learning objectives of this webinar are to

  • diagram sentences the way linguists do—accurately and elegantly,
  • learn about the building blocks of syntax,
  • clear up some common misunderstandings about verbs, nouns, and pronouns, and
  • dismantle and fix some of the most common mistakes people make when trying to apply “proper grammar.”

Date: Thursday, April 27
Time: 2 p.m., EDT / 11 a.m., PDT
Length: 1.5 hours
Language: English
Member price: $56.25
Non-Member price: $75

Register HERE

james_harbeck
James Harbeck is a linguist, editor, and well-known writer and speaker on language. His articles appear regularly on websites such as TheWeek.com and BBC.com as well as on his own blog, Sesquiotica.