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Chasing fire trucks is not for me: my second beginning as an editor

Karen Kemlo

Karen Kemlo

By Karen Kemlo

“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” —A.A. Milne

I call my decision to change careers in mid-life my “second beginning”—for me it defines the place where I am now. It’s also about coming full circle again and being a late bloomer.

I grew up surrounded by books and newspapers and I was a secret writer who dreamed of having her first novel published by the age of 21. I read voraciously and critiqued everything I found. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree, I worked for several years in a public library. I then decided that I wanted to be a foreign correspondent, travel the world and cover stories for the world press.

I took the plunge and applied for the two-year Journalism After Degree (JRAD) program at Ryerson and was amazed that I got in. In the early 1990s, I was taking my first steps toward becoming a journalist. Having worked for several years, I was also one of the oldest students in my class and my expectations were high. I soon realized that I would not emerge fully formed and be hired by the CBC as an arts reporter or as a feature writer for the Star. It was—and still is—a tough, competitive business and I had to run the race like everyone else.

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The hidden agenda of my EAC mentor

By Michelle SchriverBusiness Partners Helping Each Other

My goal was to establish myself as a freelance editor. But in my darkest moments, I questioned whether that goal was a realistic one. I had completed Ryerson’s certificate in publishing, but with no in-house experience—or paid editorial experience of any kind—how would I win contracts?

In desperation, I found myself applying for posted jobs—exactly what job experts say not to do. Instead, experts say, you must identify what you want and go after it.

I didn’t listen.

I continued to apply for posted jobs, receiving little interest from potential employers. I felt lost—and like a loser.

EAC’s mentorship program came to the rescue—and BoldFace, too, because that’s where a post by freelance editor and writer Jennifer D. Foster came to my attention. If you’re a regular BoldFace reader, then you’re familiar with Jennifer’s byline, as she writes and edits her fair share of posts (and recently joined the Toronto branch’s executive committee as the seminars vice-chair). Her post profiling a coffee shop in my neighbourhood caught my eye, so I googled her. When I learned she lives close to me, I emailed her, offering to buy her coffee at the shop she blogged about.

She responded right away, saying she was willing to meet. At the appointed time, I waited for Jennifer at the coffee shop, feeling every bit the online stalker. Thanks to the Internet, I knew Jennifer’s educational background, work experience, and family status. I even knew her dog’s name.

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