I opened an email recently and realized that I was due to renew my Editors Canada membership. This will be year 15. It would have been 16, but I lapsed once. But only once.
I love words, but my trip to becoming a member of Editors Canada was circuitous, to say the least. When it happened it was indeed an epiphany.
As a journalist and author, I had worked with editors at various times, but I had never stopped to think much about editing as a profession. To me, editing was something that needed to be done after the really “hard” work of research and writing had been accomplished. Because I was so busy being a writer, it took me many years to realize that I too could be an editor.
I stumbled upon Editors Canada when I was well into a career that included working as a journalist and broadcaster, becoming a published author, and transitioning to working in organizational communications for various non-profits. In 2001, I was new to directing communications for a small international development organization. As part of my work, I was charged with publishing various books and research reports. I had written books, but I had never edited one.
Then, in the top drawer of my new desk, I found a membership form for the Editors Association of Canada (as it was known then). It was likely left there by the desk’s previous occupant. I describe such timely moments as synchronicity. I had found an organization that I needed to learn more about.
It is not that I had not known that editors existed. The dailies that I had worked at over the years had managing editors and copy editors. The non-fiction books I wrote were touched by the deft hand of editors. The short stories I created were informed by writers who were also excellent editors, ready to explain to me the meaning of epiphany, revelation and heart of darkness stories that I had written. Who knew!!
So, that January day, more than 15 years ago, when I came upon the membership form, I filled it out, figuring it was a good investment. I’ve been inspired by the learning community provided by the Association ever since.
Every year around this time as I prepare to pay my membership fees, I review the training sessions and the benefits available through Editors Canada. Over the years I have taken many, many workshops: Eight-Step Editing, Practical Proofreading, Copy Editing I and II, and others on writing style guides, proposal writing, editing fiction, and most recently freelancing and scientific editing. As my career evolves, I reach out to talented and friendly members who belong to this community. I have a place to ask questions, share insights, and to constantly learn.
Over the years thanks to Editors Canada, I have learned that writers and editors have a lot in common. The relationship should be symbiotic, as opposed to adversarial. Both editors and writers love words and improving content for publication. Both are vital in the creation of written material. Writers are often also editors, taking their prose through various drafts, before handing it off to a professional editor. Just as there are several genres of writing, so too are there several different types or levels of editing. It can be hard to save copy that is badly written, but editors always step up and enhance content. And, even those texts that shine, become brighter with the invisible hand of a talented editor.
Editors are under-rated, yet critically important.
Most days I am still not sure which profession comes first with me…writing or editing…and maybe that is simply the way it will be depending on the project. But what I do know is that being a member of Editors Canada is helping me to achieve both.
Lois Ross is a communications specialist, and a freelance writer and editor.
She is originally from Saskatchewan, but has called Ottawa home for the past 20 years.