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How to break through walls: A writer’s perspective on the infamous “block”

By Judy Ann Crawford

How to break through walls: A writer’s perspective on the infamous “block”

People have writer’s block not because they can’t write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.—Anna Quindlen

So it’s time to write the thing. Topic? Check. There it is, typed out at the top of the page, a vast whiteness beneath it that you are trying not to focus on. Coffee? Of course. Donut? No. You can’t risk the inevitable crash that follows the sugar rush. There will be no crashing. It’s writing day. Time? Yes. You even have supper prepared ahead (that is, five or six supper-like ingredients tossed into a dish, including copious amounts of cheese, which you hope qualify as a casserole). So why aren’t you writing?

Writer’s block. (more…)

Editor for Life: Freelance editor Catherine Dorton

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. FosterCatherine Dorton

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.

Catherine, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I’ve been working as a freelance editor for 10 years after working in-house as a production editor at Penguin. I love the freedom and flexibility of freelancing and the amazing variety of projects I do. I work on trade books—all kinds—but with a special passion for children’s books. When I’m not editing, I’m often out hauling water to thirsty trees, biking, or sitting on my porch enjoying a coffee and a book.

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

Being an editor may be solitary, but I don’t welcome communing with ghosts! However, if I were to be haunted by a dead author (with manuscript in hand), I’d pick a Brontë, preferably Charlotte. I think we are kindred spirits.

Closer to home and the present, I’ve been a huge admirer of Deborah Ellis ever since my son and I “tandem” read The Breadwinner series last summer. She is an activist, and her books are a great catalyst for change among kids who can see themselves in the “ordinariness” of her characters as they prevail in the most difficult circumstances. From war-torn Afghanistan to the coca fields of Bolivia and beyond, she tackles big issues––drug trafficking, homelessness, child labour, leprosy, HIV––but somehow leaves the reader feeling renewed and hopeful. Kids are capable of so much empathy, and she really taps into that gift. It would be a pleasure and an honour to work on one of her books. (more…)

Book review: See Also Murder, by Larry D. Sweazy

By Robin MarwickSee Also Murder

When I offered to review a book about an indexer, I vaguely expected a cozy mystery, perhaps with an index entry at the head of each chapter. See Also Murder is not cozy. Set in the stark landscape of North Dakota in 1964, it’s narrated by Marjorie Trumaine, a farm wife and freelance indexer. Marjorie’s husband, Hank, was blinded and paralyzed in a hunting accident, and Marjorie is holding things together—barely—with help from neighbours and her indexing work for a New York publisher. When her closest neighbours and friends are found with their throats slit, the local sheriff asks Marjorie to help identify a mysterious amulet found with the bodies.

And then, naturally, more bodies start to pile up, and Marjorie fears that her husband’s life and her own are in danger. Plus, she has this deadline for a book about headhunters that she can’t blow if she wants to keep working. It’s easy to see how the scenario could have been played for laughs, but like its North Dakota setting and Scandinavian-descended characters, See Also Murder is serious.

Marjorie is an organized, meticulous list maker with a healthy dose of curiosity, which makes her a good indexer and a decent, if reluctant, detective. Indeed, she compiles an index and enlists the help of the town librarian to help her solve the murders. See Also Murder has some indexing lore sprinkled here and there, which isn’t surprising as Sweazy is an indexer himself. There’s enough to be interesting, but not so much that it feels crammed in regardless. As a narrator, Marjorie is didactic and detailed. At certain points you get the sense that she’s desperately lonely, narrating her own life to remind herself that she exists. (more…)

The Daily Grind: Bloorcourt’s new café Bloomer’s

The Daily Grind is an ongoing mini-feature that highlights the best cafés in Toronto for freelance editors looking for a caffeine fix and a temporary office away from home.

bloomersBy Chris Hughes

Bloomer’s is a brand new café that just opened in July on Bloor Street West just east of Ossington Avenue. It has an eclectic but homey style, with photos of dogs and family vacation spots lining the walls. The homey atmosphere doesn’t end with the decor—this café has a distinctly relaxed ambience, with the owners making regular rounds to top up coffee for their laid-back clientele, many of whom set up shop to work away on laptops and tablets. To top it all off, the entire front of the restaurant opens up onto Bloor Street, letting in the breeze to make it a great summer hangout.

Perfect for just about any diet, this bakery café churns out a wide range of vegan and gluten-free baked goods including bagels, breads, cakes, and cookies. If those treats don’t catch your eye, then you should try their delicious butterless, vegan butter tarts or their caramel-glazed bread pudding. In addition to their baked goods, Bloomer’s offers two roasts of coffee, espresso-based coffees, and a wide range of teas including English breakfast tea and the South American yerba mate.

Wi-Fi network name: bloomers
Number of tables: 12
Number of power outlets: Five
873 Bloor St. W., open Mon.­–Sat. 8 AM–6 PM, Sun. 10 AM–5 PM

Chris Hughes is a Toronto-based freelance editor specializing in copy editing academic and educational materials.

 This article was copy edited by Valerie Borden.