Interview conducted by Alicja Minda.
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.
My name is Terese Mason Pierre. I’m a writer, editor, and reviewer. I write mainly poetry, but sometimes fiction and essays. I am currently a co-editor-in-chief of Augur Magazine, a Canadian speculative literature journal. I’ve been with Augur since December 2017, when I initially joined as a poetry editor, but now I edit fiction, too. Prior to that, I was an associate editor at Lady Lazarus Journal, an online poetry magazine. And before that, I was a submissions editor and curator with the Toronto Public Library’s Young Voices Magazine, where I’d been on their editorial team since 2013 (at the age of 17). So, I’ve got about eight years of editorial experience, and only on editorial teams/boards/collectives. I haven’t worked as a freelance editor (yet!).
Who: If you could edit one famous author, living or dead, who would it be?
I’d love to edit Jericho Brown’s poetry. His work is so beautiful and striking. I wonder what that creative process must be like.
What: Do you have a favourite punctuation mark and/or a favourite word?
I think my favourite punctuation mark is the em dash. As a poet, I use it a lot. I don’t have a favourite word as an editor—there are so many to choose from!
Where: If you could work anywhere in the world as an editor, where would that be?
I like where I am, actually, in Toronto, as my family and friends are here, but if I could pick somewhere else, I guess I’d pick New York City, or anywhere that has a large and vibrant arts and writing community. It’s not really about where I am, but whether I’m able to live comfortably and safely, support myself, and celebrate other writers. I wouldn’t want to be isolated from the community I know and love.
When: Was there ever a time in your life when you seriously questioned your career choice?
In regard to editing, no, I’ve never questioned it. This is something I love to do, and I do it to both help others with their work and improve my own craft. Also, I have a day job!
Why: Why did you choose to become an editor? Or, should we ask: Why did editing choose you?
I chose to become an editor to be more connected with other writers. I wanted to know how their writing processes started and developed and to discuss their work in more intimate ways. I also wanted to assist others wherever I could, and I believe my background as a reader and a writer helps my editing. Editing, to me, is a service, a way I can give back to my writing community and help shape the literary landscape.
And, of course, we just had to ask the inevitable how: How would you sum up your motto?
My editing motto changes rather infrequently, and now it’s, “Always ask questions.” There are so many reasons for a writer to include or exclude something, and their work may be influenced by various life events, states of mind, loves, fears, or curiosities. As an editor, I’m motivated to constantly ask questions of the work (and the author) to uncover its intention and make it better.
Alicja Minda is a freelance journalist, editor and researcher based in Toronto. She is the editor-in-chief of BoldFace.
This article was copy edited by Julia Kennedy.