2019 Editors Canada Conference Report By Becky Heaman

I attended my first Editors Canada conference a few weeks ago, June 7-9, 2019, in Halifax. I had hummed and hawed over the decision, as I had only started taking editing courses in January and wasn’t sure it was the right time for me to go. But finally in mid-May, I made the commitment and bought my ticket!

I can say now that it was the best decision – such a kind, and welcoming group! Everyone was super approachable and friendly, whether they were a speaker, an experienced editor/conference attendee, or a first-timer like me.

20190609 - Becky, Becky, BeckyI used the billeting option and was very fortunate to be placed with a wonderful woman and her family, Becky Skillin. Becky also hosted two other editors, Marie-Christine Payette and Mary Newberry.

I signed up for two of the pre-conference seminars and attended these on Friday.

Eight-Step Editing – Elizabeth d’Anjou

The morning session was on a topic I thought would be extremely useful as I get started as an editor. Elizabeth was a dynamo! She usually gives this talk as a full-day session, so we went very quickly through the material. We didn’t cover all the examples in the handout, but I am grateful to have them as a takeaway to work on later. We also received an excellent one-pager to post by my workspace!

Macros 101 – Amy Schneider

My afternoon session was a bit more technical. I have always been a quick learner with technology and am usually the person who others in my office come to when they have a question about how to do something in Excel, Word, or PowerPoint. But Macros is something I had never really explored, so I was very happy to learn so many tips & tricks from Amy. Using macros is about saving time on things you do repetitively. This session has laid the foundation for me, and I know this knowledge will be invaluable as I progress as an editor.

20190607 - axe throwingFriday continued with the Welcome Reception. A free drink plus yummy nibbles – my favourite kind of event. There was also surprise entertainment, the Halifax-based Maritime Bhangra Group. They were such fun to watch. Unfortunately, I did not get to stay and be a dancer with them as I had signed up for the Axe Throwing event and our group had to head out. I have never been axe throwing, but it had been on my bucket list for over five years, so I was thrilled to finally get a chance at it. What a great night!

The conference kicked into high gear on Saturday morning. There was a continental breakfast followed by the opening keynote, renowned journalist and author Linden MacIntyre. His talk about truth in journalism and how journalism has changed since he started his career was very interesting.

There was a wide range of sessions to choose from during the conference, and I tried my best to use the opportunity to learn more about what I could do as an editor. I attended four sessions on Saturday and four sessions on Sunday. My favourite sessions were:

Bad graphs: Editing graphs for readability, fairness, and impact –Robin Marwick

The biggest takeaway I had from this session (besides the point that pie charts should be done away with!), is that it is important that graphs are accurate, readable, fair, and support the story. Remember to look at the words and pictures together early and often!

Life begins at 40: The future of editing – Marianne Ward, Wendy Barron, Claire Goulet, Heather Buzila (moderator)

This panel presented some interesting stories about their personal journeys in editing. The biggest takeaway for me was that editing will be increasingly focused on plain language and inclusiveness, especially as publishing is happening on more diverse platforms.

Atlantic editors: Editing from the edge – Christine Gordon Manley (PE), Shelley Egan (NB), donnalee Moulton (NS), Sandy Newton (NL), Julia Cochrane (moderator)

20190609 - editors from the edge panelFour freelance editors, one from each Atlantic province, discussed how they have created their careers and grown their networks. I found the ladies’ stories really interesting, such a diverse range of experience. Each member of the panel had a nugget or two for me to takeaway, plus there was some hilarity! And really, it didn’t matter that the focus of the session was on being based in a smaller or isolated community, as I found all the lessons and suggestions super relevant for building an editorial business in general.

From the failing files: Learning from (big) mistakes – Laura Poole

20190609 - laura poole failure.jpeg

Laura shared some very personal examples of when she has made mistakes plus also opened the floor for others to share. The examples and stories were all very eye opening, but the biggest lesson in this session was not what will you do IF you make a mistake but WHEN you make a mistake. Laura outlined four steps to gracefully recover – apologize, make it right, examine how it happened, and implement changes to prevent it from happening again.

I skipped the Annual General Meeting and enjoyed a nice walk along the waterfront with a few other student affiliates I had met. J But I did attend the Awards Banquet on Saturday night. A big congratulations to the winners!

The conference wrapped up late Sunday afternoon with the closing keynote speaker, Sheree Fitch. She spoke about the relationship between the author and the writer, and she was marvellous! A great storyteller! And then the announcement for the 2020 conference – it will be the second international conference, hosted in Montreal!

I came away with a brain full of ideas and a nice stack of business cards! I have been slowly connecting with my new friends and colleagues, and already put next year’s conference in my calendar.

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