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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, 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…)