An Editor’s Year: 2015

What a great year 2015 has been! Here are some of the standouts from a professional perspective:

10. Launching my new website

After noticing that my old website looked quite tired, I searched for a new WordPress theme that would help me show my portfolio more visually. I was thrilled to discover Edin, which I (not a web wizard, I assure you) was able to customize in a few days. My new site features lots of gallery views of the books and publications I have worked on as an editor, indexer, and writer, and the antique book engravings I found at the Devil’s Artisan allowed me to add a vintage aesthetic that appeals to my interest in stories of the past.

9. Spending time with writers and readers at the Vancouver Writers’ Festival
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Sarah Dunant at the Vancouver Writers’ Festival, 2015

I don’t edit fiction, but I read a lot of it, and it’s thanks to VWF that I have discovered incredible authors whom I may not have otherwise encountered. This year it was Elena Ferrante, whose four Neopolitan novels I read voraciously following the festival. One of my favourite VWF events was “Getting Under Their Skins,” a slideshow and lecture by British author Sarah Dunant, who brings history to life in the most delicious and readable way.

8. Finding the Past in New Zealand’s Online Archives 

One of my happy places is an archive, even if the experience is sometimes only a digital one, and this year I had the opportunity to spend time searching through New Zealand archival records for a local Vancouver client who was born in NZ. It made all the eye strain worthwhile to see her own eyes light up when I shared newspaper clippings from 1856 that definitively placed her ancestors on board a ship from Liverpool to Auckland. If sometimes I bemoan the loss of the physical in this digital age, having access to these original records from half the world away is truly a marvellous thing.

7. Talking about writing with people who want to improve their own

In addition to reprising my bio-writing workshop for the UBC Ch’nook Aboriginal Management Program and my report-writing course for consulting firm MNP this year, I had the pleasure of delivering writing workshops to two social services organizations: Atira Women’s Resource Society and the Community Social Services Employers’ Association. It was especially gratifying to help those doing such crucial work in our communities gain more confidence and skill in their written communications.

6. Being reminded of (and thankful for) the camaraderie in the book publishing business
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Me and a book-biz friend at the Echo Storytelling Agency holiday party at the Dirty Apron

I can’t say enough about the fun, professional, and collegial group of people who work in the BC book publishing scene, some of whom have become longtime friends. I am so thankful for the support, friendship, wisdom, and willingness to share that I have found among them.

5. Editing and indexing some fabulous cookbooks (and sampling some of the contents)

The cookbook work I do is among my favourite, and this year brought some particularly yummy projects. Butter Celebrates! (Appetite by Penguin Random House)the follow-up book for Rosie Daykin of Butter Baked Goods here in Vancouver, was extremely tough to index without sampling a few recipes, and the copy edit of Food Artisans of the Okanagan (TouchWood Editions) by Jennifer Cockrall-King came right before my husband and I spent the weekend in Naramata, so we were able to find and try out some of the cheeses, olive oils, fruit chutneys, and ice cream featured in the book. It’s a tough job, but…

4. Editing while in awe

Great Soul of Siberia

In Great Soul of Siberia, a story about a family of wild Siberian tigers, there is a section that had me so gripped with tension about what was going to happen next that I had to stop editing and just simply read. Author Sooyong Park, a documentary filmmaker and tiger researcher, and his Canadian publisher Greystone Books have brought an exquisite addition to the nature-memoir genre with this book. One passage that struck a particular chord was “In life, it’s best to be a mossy stone sometimes. Without taking the time to stay put and sink deep into the ground, you can lose your way.”

3. Adding textbooks to my editing portfolio

Thanks to a referral from one of my great editing colleagues, I started working for Wiley Canada this year on two huge textbook proofreading projects. The proofs came electronically and I had to do on-screen markup using Adobe stamps and drawing tools, so before the first proof arrived I was a bit apprehensive about how slowly the work might go and whether it would be a success. My concerns were for naught, and 2,500+ pages later, I think I can now say that I am completely comfortable with electronic markup!

2. Copy editing and indexing Heaven, Hell and Somewhere in Between
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An installation at the Heaven, Hell and Somewhere in Between exhibition of Portuguese popular art at the UBC Museum of Anthropology

This enormous and gorgeous tome by Anthony Alan Shelton of the UBC Museum of Anthropology flexed my copy editing and indexing muscles with its detailed analysis of Portuguese popular art and artists and the political, societal, and religious influences on them. Published by Figure 1 Publishing as the companion to a stunning exhibition at MOA last summer, the book has pride of place on my portfolio shelf.

1. Participating on the Editors Canada professional editing standards task force

In early November I joined a group of editors tasked with initiating the process of reviewing Editors Canada’s professional editing standards. This might sound dull, but believe me, it was anything but! The other members of the task force were some of the best editors in Canada, and our discussion was lively and engaging. It was a stimulating weekend that made us all ponder what an editor is, what we do, and the standards that should guide us as we do it. Editors are working in so many fields and contexts these days, yet we are all driven by the same goal of connecting readers with words and images in the best way possible. The future of our profession looks full of opportunity.