On My Desk

Hello and welcome to Cork Board Edits!

This is where I will be posting regular thoughts and updates based on what’s on my desk.

Click here to check out my creative blog: Music and Fiction. It encompasses thoughts and updates on my writing and my artistic endeavors.

Don’t be Discouraged

Image by www_slon_pics from Pixabay

This past month has been a slower one when it comes to freelance work. I have a list of reasons why. However, I’m not getting caught up in worrying about it. I simply try to change what I can and make the best of the rest. Downtime is as natural as the tides, so try not to worry. I do have some advice on what to do when the universe presents you with free time.

(Disclaimer: Some of these ideas suggest going out to functions, such as going to the library. Those are suggestions for mostly post-pandemic activities.)


Don’t worry!
I fall into worry easily, but I do eventually sit up and remind myself that I’m wasting my time in wallowing and spinning out with worry.

Take a break
You can take an extra day off. Yes, that’s right. You can do that! It’s great to get some extra time to recharge, especially when you might have just completed a month of non-stop editing projects. Sleeping more, cooking nice meals, going for walks, playing games, and reading for fun are all great things to do.

Learning time
You have a couple free weeks? Why not find some videos, or pick up some books to sharpen your editing skills. Or you could even look at working on new skills like design, or painting. Anything you’re interested in is fine. It doesn’t always have to be about work. If you’re on LinkedIn, they usually give away a free 30-days to their LinkedIn Learning courses (formerly Lynda.com) every year. I believe Skillshare offers free courses at times as well. Also be sure to check your memberships with writing and editing associations. You may be entitled to free or subsidized courses. Plus, there’s your local library. These community spaces have lots of different activities throughout the day. The fun bonus with freelancing is the freedom you gain over your day. You can absolutely go out for a couple hours after lunch to take in a lecture or a class.

Self-improvement
Go ahead and learn some new meditation techniques or yoga routines. Spend some more time working out.

Get inspired
Listen to podcasts, anything interesting. Or listen to good radio, such as CBC Radio One. The variety of topics and shows that make you think can bring you to topics and questions you might never have thought of. Listening while doing chores is great. Look at art, animation, nature, movies, anything to light fires in your mind.

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

For me the downtime has been a great reminder. It made me realize that downtime is not a bad thing. I am an editor, but also a writer, and an illustrator. This is exactly the time I need to write more and draw more. So I doubled down. In a way, the universe is letting me get closer to finishing my book(s). Plus there’s the chance at alternative work in the future, writing articles or short stories, or drawing characters and covers.

How the h*ck did I get here?

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

When I set out to write this blog back in 2017, I wanted to be open and authentic. I wanted to share all of the information that I had yearned to know over the years. Yet, after all this time, I still know for a fact that there remain big secrets in the editing industry. This secretive mode of operation leaves many earnest aspiring editors walking around with big question marks in front of their faces. Believe me, I know all too well the frustrations of being led into corners when it should be a simpler career path to choose.

While a crisis of self-esteem and its tag-along cousin, imposter feelings, has largely been the reason for my hiatus, what has kept me away recently was the development of my own success as an editor. Crazy, right? Why on earth would success keep me from sharing, or even just talking about my experience?

First off, the success was unexpected. For a long time I didn’t campaign very hard for jobs or to be known as an editor. Furthermore, I was afraid that if I said too much, shared the good news too far and wide, that it might somehow jinx it. What a cognitive distortion!

Not anymore.

I also knew that I owed it to my mission, the people I want to help, to drop the knowledge on how my success came about. After all, the most common question I got was “how do you find/get jobs?” I could see that question rearing up again from a mile away. Rightfully so. And just as I do not subscribe to the narrative of talent in the illustration industry, nor would I accept the pathetic answer of “I got lucky.” Screw that. I work hard. While my illness would have me think otherwise, I know I work hard! So I had to sit back and think about it. Why was I getting jobs? Why was I successful? What had changed? How the h*ck did I get here?

Time.

The long game (link) is real. I’ve wanted to be an editor and writer for more than half my life. I just turned 30, and in the last six months these dreams have begun to come into fruition. My desire was maddening at times and disappointing at others. But it never really went away. I stuck with it. I invested in books, read articles online, and browsed industry magazines at the library. Then I found my people. Authors of all kinds, little (mostly indie) publishers, and a few stray editors. I continued learning and growing while doing my best to remain humble. Then my chance came. I finally earned the chance.

Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash

I’ll always be grateful for that first contract, but I also worked hard. I wanted to show my gratitude and make it a little more than worthwhile to the client. More importantly, I wanted to be sure I was proud of my work. One should never waste an opportunity. Doing that first contract got me talking about editing more. The conversation was active, and that seemed to bring more notice to me. I tweaked my social media as I went along too.

I knew, deep down ,that this was my time. One contract begot another, and with the support of those who knew me and then those who worked with me, more contracts have come. So there is no quick trick or magic pill. Life isn’t like that. It would be boring if it was. Here’s my short advice. Hang in there. Keep working on what you know. Keep letting your passion lead. A real passion and love for literature, storytelling, and clear communication. Spare some time to visualize what you want your life in editing to look like. You will be seen as an asset in time. Be prepared.

All the best. You CAN do this. I’ll be rooting for you.

3 Tips on your Editing Journey

Since you last heard from me, I have gone from a rinky-dink odd project here and there editor to steady freelance. I even work consistently with a publishing company now. Furthermore, I’ve gotten to do some speaking engagements to share my knowledge and the secrets of editing I wished people had shared with me when I dreamed of being in the industry but had no clue where to go.

Here are some little tips I have noticed and learned through my projects:

Start slow if you have to

On my first foray, I printed off the manuscript and bought some red editor’s pencils. I was determined to do my editing the way in-house editors said you should. I wanted to do two read-throughs of the manuscript before sending it back to the author/publisher. However, I soon found that particular method took a lot longer than I had hoped. While many folks cite time as the reason editing services have lessened (from the editors), or why they (writers) choose to get editing on the cheap, I refused to let that be the case.Photo of red pencil tip focused with other colors fuzzy in background

So when my second manuscript came along, I started with another printout. However, I found it was twice as hard to transfer my edits to the screen. I quickly realized I didn’t have to do it that way anymore.

Trust yourself. Honestly.

I have this funny gift and a curse. I’m a very slow reader. The school system said I was dyslexic growing up. Of course, they didn’t know or care what to do with it at the time. They felt they could cure me by making me read as much as five times the amount of books everyone else had to. My mom worked with me to make sure I didn’t fall behind in my learning, and I guess we somehow came up with a technique that got me by. It’s been my gift ever since.

You see, I’m supremely focused, or conscientious, as they called it in school. I may be a slow reader, but I only have to read things once. I have a great memory for all sorts of information and see the details too. I’ve had times where I’m at a roundtable with publishers and authors and I go on and on about their plots and characters. It quickly becomes apparent to the room that I’m an expert on their works, and I’m passionate about them, because I know the work as much as the author does. Sometimes I know even more than they can remember!

I’m not saying you have to somehow hone this kind of skill. I’m just glad I have something going for me, something to be proud of. However, what I found is that I can trust myself to read a manuscript once, or one and a half times.  I’ve known about this skill for a long time, and it hasn’t changed. I  know that I can recall all the details of the plots after I read them, and because I’m a detail-focused person, any anomalies stand out instantly.

If I have a writer add more information, write new paragraphs or chapters, I tell them to send it back so that I have a chance to go over it a second time. After all, most of us have witnessed the little typos that sneak in when we make even the simplest changes.

Since I know what I am capable of, I don’t have to force myself into someone else’s work routine. I can take their method and adapt it to my own way of doing things. But let me stress this part, because it’s the most important, be honest about what you can and can’t do. Be an honest worker. If you need to give yourself extra read-throughs, then make sure you allot for that in your work schedule. You just have to ask yourself, what am I comfortable sending out into the world? Will I be able to say that I gave it my all to make this book the very best?

Break it down into chunks

Another method I’ve found useful for both myself and the authors I work with is breaking down the edits into smaller parts. I’ve settled on doing it in quarters. I do the first quarter and send it to the author. That gives them a chance to make adjustments and review while I work on the next part or two. Sometimes I look it over again while working on another section, but most times I won’t touch the reworked first part again until the end of the entire first edit.  I don’t like being all over the place. I also get too excited to know the entire story someone has crafted not to keep going forward in my reading.

Also, I found this as a weird mind trick, when I do my quarter breakdowns I also divide that by the number of days until my deadline and take that as my minimum amount of work per day. I find that seeing small numbers, or at least knowing my numbers helps to take the pressure off. d-a-v-i-d-s-o-n-l-u-n-a-Pp-ONSNy4U0-unsplash

That’s it for my three tips today. I’m heading back to the editing desk for more work. I’m still open for new projects if anyone would like.

Photos curtesy of: D A V I D S O N L U N A

Lessons from this Editor

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While I have wanted to say things, I often caution myself with taking time to reflect first. This probably contributes to the view that I am a rather serious person. Plus there’s my mental health. It’s a struggle, learning to take on the working world again, the 9-5 or 8-9 (AM to PM) or anything in between. I’m no longer running away from it or resisting. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to balance or to fit in time for one’s dreams. After all, the dream is to work freelance, or on my own projects, but we all must accept that this means playing the long game. I try to cling to Elizabeth Gilbert’s words in that I will work support my art, I will not demand that it supports me. Otherwise, the pressure skyrockets and the muse might be scared away, and your creativity gets squashed under all that weight. At least in my experience.

Anyway, all of that is my way of saying, it’s been a while, but I’m finally ready to share some news. I have an editing contract! It’s on a series I love, written by someone I look up to. adult-blur-carpenter-345135

Sadly, I have no magic technique to share with you. THE technique was simply being social. This was good old-fashioned networking. Person-to-person, known in the same groups, let’s give this a shot sort of thing. I feel lucky, but I’m sure it wasn’t simply chance that got me this project. I want to work really hard and do great work for this book. So, I guess the lesson is to stick with it. Put it out there in the world, keep learning, keep helping, be passionate and unapologetic about your passions and it will come back around.

Debrief and Portfolio Conclusion

It’s two weeks since Sci-Fi on the Rock so it’s time for a debrief. The panel was small but nevertheless, one interested party is better than a room full of uninterested folks. I have to admit, my performance as a panelist over the weekend was not what I had hoped. I think running a business from a vendor table and then spreading oneself thin with regards to presentations proved detrimental. Now, while I did have words of thanks from attendees, and that means so much to me, I didn’t live up to my own standards. I was tired, and worse, scatter-brained, and then, worst of all, LATE. I struggled with tardiness. It’s a form of stress for me in both directions. Being early and then being late are both problems. One of the joys of coping with anxiety conditions.

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Anyway, I hope the editing panel was of some use. My co-hosts were very eloquent, organized, and personable. They are really my heroes. Thank you, Erin Vance and Heather Reilly for showing me what I want to be as an editor. They’re wonderful ladies who are happy to share their knowledge and experience. I love it since the industry so often feels like a vault where everyone is holding their trade secrets tight to the chest. I don’t like feeling like I have to pick the lock on someone’s interest or confidence to learn simple trade processes.

In the end, I sincerely hope that my attempts to give back made some difference and could help add to the convention experience. The convention has done a lot for me in my recovery, and I want to support it as much as possible.
The panel also settled the quest from Portfolios (link) for me. I asked Erin and Heather what their experience and approach was to Editor Portfolios. Their answers boiled down to a satisfying conclusion. The portfolio isn’t necessary. You either have titles or works you can point to and/or do samples for clients. What matters most is your performance in sample edits. What a relief! I was glad to hear that merit weighed most in this situation, and the portfolio wasn’t a hard and fast rule in the industry.
Since the convention, I’ve come upon another discovery. One might even view it as a creative reminder. Over the past few weeks, I’ve worked hard to prepare a submission of a novel I started writing around Christmas. This was my first submission to a publisher, ever. Boy, was it a time of excitement, worry, and anxieties! I sent the first 3 chapters to an editor, and when I got them back, I withered with embarrassment. Here I was, an educated woman, a long-time writer and training as an editor, and the mistakes staring me down were stupid, if not irritating. My editor was friendly and unperturbed. So that helped. I find that the best editors are very empathetic and personable. They’re teachers just as much as they are editors. Perhaps, however, because an editor is a teacher, someone who has mastery in a specific area, they tend to hold themselves to strict standards that they never ask of anyone else. Or is that just me? It might just be me.

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Photo by David Pennington on Unsplash

After a day I was able to digest and work through my reaction and came to realize something. My writing and my editing are separate. Think of it as two mindsets, if you like. When I’m writing, I can’t be concerned with editing. I even tell writers, that they re always going to be too close to their work to be able to edit it properly. Every transgression they could make, I’ve made it too (Or I’m getting close). That’s okay. You’re busy telling the story. As long as you try–do a tidy-up on the draft beforehand–that’s fine. Furthermore, none of us are perfect. Something will always slip through. No matter how many editing runs you have on your manuscript. We are learning throughout our lives, and while I may be at level 27 overall, my skills aren’t all at that same level. And anyone who’s played a video game knows, 27 looks formidable, but it’s really only the beginning of understanding the game and the character you’re building.

 

Here’s to continued learning!

Upcoming Events

I started another course to try and get my credentials increased. This should give my freelancing a boost as well. Confidence, further knowledge, more time studying CMOS (The Chicago Manual of Style) as well as continued reading in The Copyeditor’s Handbook, plus a lot more experience proofreading. I plan to talk more about my experience when I’ve moved on further into the coursework.

What I will share, is that I’m going to be tightening up my Services page even more. This is to be fair to both clients and fellow editors and more in line with the industry. Most of that was done in my quick polish prior to the Publishing Panel. See the recording by clicking here.

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Next, I want to let you know some things. I have been invited back to co-host an editing panel. This time it will be at Sci-Fi on the Rock, April 6-8th. I’m excited to chat with everyone and hang out with my friends Erin Vance from Engen Books, and Heather Reilly from Reilly Books. These gals rock! We love helping local writers, and future editors unravel this confusing part of the publishing process, as well as making it far less scary. I’ll be throwing some of my own questions into the ring as well. I think it would be cool to get some opinions on my searches.

We’ll be presenting “The Art of the Edit” on Friday, April 6th from 6:00pm-6:50pm in the Avalon/Battery room. Click here for our panel page. You can see the full (and beautiful) schedule here.

I will also be doing a few other panels, but as my sister has pointed out, I’m under a bunch of different names. You’ll find me co-hosting the RWBY fan panel with my pal Stacey Oakley, probably jumping in the Writing and Mental Health Panel hosted by Chelsea Beaton, and hosting the Fountain Pen Party. All of which is on Saturday. I’ll be at Sci-Fi all weekend running the Cork Board Pens table, so if there are any questions, please drop by. I’d love to geek out or help in any way I can. There will be a lot of other local authors in the genre world at Sci-Fi too. So it’s worth attending if you’re interested in that. Lots of panels and talks, even the guests can be inspiring to listen to. Creativity reaches all bounds.

On Saturday, and 10:00 a.m., I will begin my presentations by hosting the Pen Party as Cork Board Pens. My co-host will be the amazing Pam Anstey, who is the FP Queen in my opinion. If anyone is curious about fountain pens, this is the place to be. We’ll be going over pens 101, as well as sharing samples. If there’s time we will get into paper and ink too. CBP will be putting out a call for pen friends who are interested in beginning a monthly club. All are welcome. We’ll announce the details later, but at the workshop and our table, we’ll have an email sign-up for anyone who would be interested in joining. All emails will be used ONLY for the club. There will be no spam or sharing of emails.

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Directly after the Pen Party, I’ll be joining my friend, author Stacey Oakley for a panel about the amazing show RWBY. We will be talking fairy tales and myths, who’s who in the world of Remnant, as well as future character theories. We’ll also talk about the popularity of fairy-tale-based writing and its success or failings. For my part, I plan to offer the animation and gaming side of the show including anything based in Rooster Teeth’s production methods. So anyone wanting to discuss or share knowledge, please join in and have an awesome hour of fan celebration and discussion. Also, if you appreciate RWBY, you can feed the interest by picking up Stacey’s book Hunter’s Soul. It’s an intense adventure that explores some of the hard realities of being a career hunter of monsters. Not to mention being a less-than-appreciated protector of people. She’ll be with Cork Board Pens in the Vendor room.

A little later will be the “Let’s be Honest” panel, discussing writing and mental health. Chelsea Beaton will be hosting/moderating with a party of contributors. I will be on hand to offer perspective as someone with MDD and GAD who has participated in Day Treatment Programs, as well as dealing with chronic diseases as a creative. Writing did save my life, and I want to give back to the community somehow. Maybe my words can be useful.

Throughout the show, there will be panels hosted by amazing authors and publishers such as Matthew Ledrew, Ellen Louise Curtis, Amanda Labonte, JJ King, Candace Osmond, Scott Bartlett, Charles O’keefe, and more. Sci-Fi on the Rock helped to push me forward with my writing, and editing, and to believe in myself more. If you have wants and dreams with regard to writing, try out some of the presentations. It can change your life and set you on a path that will bring you more than you might be able to imagine at this time. But more of that at the panels. Please feel welcome to drop by and say Hi at the Cork Board Pens table, or any of the panels/workshops. Can’t wait!

 

Polish

I did a quick polish on my services page. The descriptions were wordy and needed to be more on-point. Great lessons from my coursework already *thumbs up.*

I had a whole post on my upcoming work as a panelist at Sci-Fi on the Rock, among other things. Unfortunately the entire save got corrupted. So, for now, I’ll just say I did a polish and I have another update coming.

I started a course to up my game as a freelance proofreader and editor too. More about that next time. I also finished a project this week. Coursework actually helps keep me on task.

Lastly, I’m looking forward to attending a panel hosted by WANL (The Writer’s Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador), with all sorts of publishers presenting and sharing. Click here to see more info. I can’t wait to learn, hang out with my pals, and hopefully get to know some new ones.

Portfolios

Artists know that when it comes to being hired for a job, it’s more about what’s in your portfolio than what’s on a resume. I’ve been told that Proofreaders and Editors should have a portfolio too. Have you ever wondered, “What on earth goes into this kind of portfolio?”

I was reviewing my set-up for job canvassing last night and realized that I don’t have a portfolio. I don’t even know what goes into a portfolio for Proofreaders and Editors. What would it even look like?!

Thus began my journey to see what other folks had for their portfolios.

So far I have seen lists of projects worked on, or cover images posted to show what they contributed to. Admittedly, that’s a long way from what one might expect to see in an editing portfolio. I imagined reams of corrected work or a presentation of before and after. I’ll have to let you know if any of that ever comes up.

One still has to ponder, what if the work you did was donated? Or free for the sake of practice? What if the book you worked on isn’t for sale yet? What then?

The search continues.

[Feel free to post links to examples to help. It’s for the benefit of us all.]

Journeys

My first round of editing for 2018 is complete. I look forward to working with folks on developing their stories further. One part that I love is how inspiring it is to work with such talented people and walking that road with them toward making their work the best it can be.

On the other side of it all, I’ve picked up a new study and method in order to help writers create their works with less frustration, and a clearer understanding of what goes into a successful, complete work. I fell off the bandwagon with it by the end of 2017 though. I plan to renew my efforts so that I can fully implement this new method for the authors I work with. You guys deserve it. Plus, I love it. Getting to learn new things, fascinating approaches, etc.

On top of that, I finally got into daily transcription work. I’ve been balancing short projects with longer ones. General transcription is a lot of fun. I can go from lectures on genetics to a town meeting, and then a talk show, and back around to anthropology classes. The added bonus is getting to work in assisting those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. That means a lot to me and makes me feel great.

There is an added journey, however. Work in transcription isn’t simply putting on your headphones and typing. Throughout, you want to continue to improve your relevant skillsets. The first skillset is Touch Typing. Learning how to properly type. With improving your approach to typing, you will inevitably increase your speed. I always said, when I set out working in data input and then teaching others in the area, “Accuracy first, then the speed will follow.”  Secondary to that would be editing and proofreading. Let’s save that for next time, though.

My favorite site to practice Touch Typing is: https://www.typing.com/

I am attending a Work-At-Home-Summit in between projects this week, too. It’s telecommuting, but I’m looking forward to gaining fresh insight and inspiration to continue plotting the course in my journey of passion and work. Maybe I’ll even find some information to share with everyone.

On my Desk: Secret Shame

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When I was in university I thought I had to be extremely knowledgeable. You know how it is. You’re in a highly academic atmosphere, where the halls are teeming with pomp and grandeur. Well, at least metaphorically, sometimes our halls rained. We all have our secret shames, though. I remember some prof. friends of mine talking about a drinking game they played once. It was something along the lines of the “I never…” game. One prof. shocked the room into silence by admitting they had never read Macbeth.

As I have grown up I have come to realize that it’s okay to not be the most learned and widely read. We are all works in progress. If you’re not, then goodness help ya! So today I thought I would talk about my secret shame, which came up this week while I was going over some proofreading exercises.

Let me start off by sharing a huge relief and breakthrough I had with regards to editing and proofreading. When I took part in the course, The ABC’s of Proofreading through Editcetera, my teacher pointed us toward masses of information, research, and reference. One such reference was The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn. 41DHFqpNjkL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_ I subsequently purchased this book. I believe it was this work, or in the week we received the reference, that it came up. Somewhere around there, I came across the advice that to be an editor or proofreader means that you are a researcher. You check the dictionary for specific spellings, a thesaurus to suggest an alternate phrase, or in my case, you wonder if that word even exists. You also google random information, like the difference between American and European locks and thresholds, or pregnancy advice for police officers. You constantly reference style guides over things such as the appropriate use of em dash and en dash, etc. There is no shame in having to check something when you are an editor. There’s no shame in checking any time in your life. I rarely see it now, it was rare when I was in school, but I was the girl with a dictionary in her bag. I always checked words and meanings, partly because of my approach to problem-solving situations. You CAN be ashamed if you don’t do the footwork. Most people are okay if they’re that type of person though. You’re so chill! I say while viewing my collection of worry stones and anxiety tinker toys.

There’s no shame in checking any time in your life. I rarely see it now, it was rare when I was in school, but I was the girl with a dictionary in her bag. I always checked words and meanings, partly because of my approach to problem-solving situations. You CAN be ashamed if you don’t do the footwork. Most people are okay if they’re that type of person, though. You’re so chill! I say while viewing my collection of worry stones and anxiety tinker toys.

How freeing and exciting that was to know! The editor is paid to do these things. They go the extra mile to ensure it’s right, clear, and concise. Sometimes the facts don’t always stick, though. We have bad habits ingrained, or the definition doesn’t find traction in out brains.  Here is my secret shame.” I always forget the difference between Affect and Effect. I struggle with which one should go where. Sometimes I will even try to write around it! The hard-ass in me kicks back and tells me the desire to avoid it is all the more reason to keep using those words. I grew up being advised to work harder and longer at the thing you are bad at. So, knee-jerk reaction I guess. Every time, especially when editing other people’s work, I am looking up the difference between effect and affect. Grammar girl, Chicago style, grammar manuals, google, etc.

Someday, it may stick. If I work through it enough. Maybe I’ll just put a sticky note among my post-it kingdom to remind me. I’m sure it will come around in time. So let’s not say I never. I prefer to phrase it, “I haven’t …yet.”