The Editors Canada 2016 conference in Vancouver (A Correction Connection) was my second Editors Canada conference. The first was 2015’s excellent international conference, held in Toronto. This conference was smaller and so it had a more intimate feeling. But it wasn’t too small—I also met a lot of new people and caught up with some of the editors I met last year.
A standout of the conference for me was the conference buddies program. Kitty Elton did a wonderful job of organizing the whole thing and acting as the leader for my group. Somehow she unobtrusively kept track of everyone and knew just when we wanted to be pointed in the direction of other buddies.
Both the opening (Mary Norris) and closing (Bill Walsh) keynotes were fantastic, funny and thought-provoking in turn. I loved Mary’s “comma shaker.” And Bill gave us this test for deciding whether to insist on usage that’s correct, but may be confusing to many people—ask yourself, “How ridiculous would it look to keep enforcing a more established rule?” (One example: enforcing the correct use of “comprised.”)
Ok, the sessions: all of the sessions I chose to go to were as advertised and were very worthwhile. Here are a few highlights. In Ann Carlsen’s session, I learned that when you purchase a piece of art, you don’t automatically obtain all of the rights to it and you can’t do whatever you like with it (“Copyright Law for Editors”)! Daniel Heuman introduced some very promising free productivity tools that I plan to investigate further (“It’s Not Me, It’s You: Improving Your Relationship With Your Computer”). My inbox is actually cleaner after implementing some of the strategies offered in Luigi Benetton’s “Inbox Zero: Roadmap to a Calmer Mind.” And Laura Poole presented many tips for surviving and thriving in a freelance career in her session “Breaking the Feast or Famine Cycle”. She encouraged us to view “life balance” not as having it all, but figuring out what you want and deserve—and what you should probably say “no” to.
After being eminently practical in my choice of sessions, I decided to take in the debate entitled “Is It Time to Kill the Apostrophe?” Both James Harbeck and Elizabeth D’Anjou put up spirited and hilarious defenses of their positions: for and against, respectively, the abolition of the apostrophe. Attendees got in on the debate and, in the end, voted to keep the apostrophe alive (disaster averted!).
Not a bad way to spend a weekend, hanging out in a beautiful city and learning about so many fascinating topics. And all this surrounded by other editors, who always inspire me with their collegiality.
Almost a year ago, two dozen Calgary editors gathered in the upper lounge of Raw Bar on a warm evening in late June. It was a chance to eat, drink and mingle with local editors. It was also an opportunity to celebrate the newly formed Editors Calgary twig and discuss the needs and wants of twig members. While it was a casual affair, the room seemed abuzz. Conversations flowed easily and the general consensus seemed to be that the time was ripe for a local group of Editors Canada, open to both members and non-members, as a place to share tips and commiserate with other editors, in addition to offering one or two workshops a year.
Fast forward to June 28, 2016, the date selected for the first Editors Calgary AGM, at the Old Y. The plan: to go over the year’s successes (which included one half-day workshop on style sheets, one full-day workshop on grammar and a few more socials) and plan for the next year. But despite the promise of 10 or so RSVPs, I found myself sitting in an empty room with my co-chair Chrissie Mains. After waiting for about 30 minutes, Chrissie and I walked over to Raw Bar for the second part of the evening’s festivities, uncertain whether other editors would show.
It turned out to be a lovely evening in the end, with six members sitting down to enjoy a selection of hors-d’oeuvres and beverages, courtesy of Editors Calgary. It was a far cry from the buzz of a year ago, but the evening was yet another lovely opportunity to catch up with existing editing friends and make new ones.
But the lukewarm turnout at these events has left us wondering whether the twig is meeting the needs of its members (of which at present we have more than 50, according to Editors Canada). We have surveyed our group, we have offered events in different parts of the city and on different nights of the week, we have tried making the Old Y our home base, but so far, turnout has been very low. We’d love to repeat the success of one year ago, to become a hub for Calgary-area editors to share conversations both social and professional. But perhaps that’s not what you need from Editors Canada.
We’ve cancelled our room booking for July and August and will take a break over the summer. We’ll still check email, so please do send your comments and questions and suggestions. And we’d love to add guest posts to the blog, if you want to send something along. We’ll keep the Twitter feed active also. But we won’t arrange social gatherings or workshops until the fall, when we’ll hold a social gathering in September and a professional development workshop in October. And at that time, we’ll also be asking for volunteers who’d like to step up and get more involved in the behind-the-scenes work, such as running the Twitter account and/or blog or organizing a workshop.
Damn! In my hotel room the night before the pre-conference day, I realize I completely missed signing up for a conference buddies group, a program the organizing team had arranged for out-of-towners. Intrepid, I send an email and to my amazement someone responds. Wow! They are on the ball, these conference organizers. The tone is set for the weekend, then, in lush downtown Vancouver, and the next morning I dive in to a three-hour practical session on PDF editing. The rest of the weekend is a panoply of fascinating sessions, food, meeting new people, and connecting with some existing editor friends and colleagues.
What I love most about going to conferences are the insights that emerge from happy accidents and unexpected presentations. These gatherings become a time for me to identify or fill in some blind spots, look for fresh ideas, just generally get enthused again about what I do. During my graduate studies I attended many academic conferences, but every time I was presenting a paper. While these conferences were rich experiences, attending them was always tinged with anxiety. Since becoming an editor, the professional conferences and workshops I’ve been to are just plain fun. I aim for a collection of sessions that will provide me with a mix of useful skills, general information, and exposure to some big personalities.
So, this time around the skills sessions allowed me to:
get the low-down on design and printing jargon and practices. And realize that as a substantive and stylistic editor (most of the time) I probably don’t really need to know this stuff in detail. Still, it’s certainly valuable to get a sense of the big picture.
learn more about editing on PDFs. I discovered that the tools I mostly need I can access for free. Didn’t know that.
listen to tips for building an ace professional website. Okay, okay, I have to quit procrastinating and make it happen!!! (And I know—my editorial voice is also saying “too many exclamation points here,” but since this is an opinion piece, I’m giving myself some latitude. Maybe they even signify motivation…!!)
find out more about useful software to tidy up some of those editing edges. So glad I already have one program on board. This session fired me up to get another few in my toolbox.
The more general sessions I attended meant I:
heard about tricks to avoid the insane highs and lowsof the freelance life. This informative session is now spurring me on to pursue avenues I have previously avoided. I appreciated the comments about the importance of sometimes just saying NO to difficult clients.
confirmed my experience and approach to indie authors and their work. So, it is indeed quite typical to be as much a writing coach as an editor with this group of writers. My experience is not singular.
reaffirmed my desire to take this life on the road. It’s possible from time to time to actually become a “digital nomad,” eating tapas, while watching the waves of the Mediterranean, and editing a manuscript. In other words, my Spain plans sure got a boost from this session. It was useful to hear some practical ideas and just all-round confirmation that others can and do make this happen.
It was delightful for me to see and hear, live and embodied, these four well-known editor personalities. Maybe it’s just my own quirk, but after this in-person engagement I’m more interested in reading what they’ve written. I’m sure their work is no different than it was before, but I am different after this experience. In my imagination, I now filter their writing through their voice, tone, and bodily gesture:
Mary Norris discussed some of the stories in her book Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen during the opening keynote. Did you know she advocates hyphenating hubba-hubba?
James Harbeck writes the Sesquiotica blog, which I’ve followed but only half-read. I wasn’t so enamoured of its esoterica, but I’m in the game now. Since the conference, I’ve fully read each new post. His erudite talk reminded us all of the subtle relationship between writer and audience, and at the banquet, he literally sang his way into presenting the OOPS awards.
Greg Ioannou hosts the Editors’ Association of Earth FB page, and gave some juicy accounts of editors’ lives that have taken some hairpin turns. He looked a bit like he might have taken a few himself, but I kinda liked it.
Bill Walsh, copyeditor for the Washington Post and author of three amusing grammar books, gave the closing keynote. He chanted a mantra of “you’re the editor,” framed by the admonition that “not wrong ≠ right” and echoed this message in some hilarious video clips. A fine finish to the conference in my view.
Alas, with every conference, I always find I have to give up a few sessions I’d love to go to, so as to get to others that edge up slightly higher on my wish list. This time I missed a session on coaching that looked great, and another on academic knowledge transfer; then, of course, there were the sessions on web-editing and copyright issues that would also have made some good alternatives. I’m sure others would have their own favourites and I know I have next year to fill in the gaps. My true take-home this year is that these people are my tribe.
This weekend, editors from across Canada and around the world will be meeting in Vancouver for A Correction Connection.
The Calgary twig is co-ordinating a meetup for any Calgary-area editors attending the conference. If you’ll be there and want to grab a coffee with us, to catch up with editors you know and meet editors you don’t know (yet), email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll update this post with details once we agree on a time and place!
All members of the Calgary twig of Editors Canada are welcome to join us on Tuesday, June 28, for our Annual General Meeting.
We’ll convene at 5pm in the 2nd floor boardroom of CommunityWise Resource Centre, 223 12th Ave SW, Calgary, for the business portion of the meeting. If you have any items you’d like to add to our agenda, please email us by June 15.
Then we’ll move down the street to the Upper Raw Bar, Hotel Arts, 119 12th Ave SW, for the social gathering, starting at 6:30pm, where we’ll nibble on appetizers and chat about editing in Calgary, what we did at the Vancouver conference, and upcoming events like When Words Collide.
If you plan to join us for either or both of these events, please RSVP to email@example.com by June 21.
Those of you who are members of Editors Canada (EAC) will have already received an email inviting you to attend the AGM, held on Saturday, June 11 starting at 8:45 am in the Denman Ballroom of the conference hotel, the Coast Plaza. All Editors Canada (EAC) members are eligible to vote on matters at the meeting.
If you don’t plan to attend the AGM in Vancouver next, month, you can vote by proxy, either by contacting the national secretary (see above) or by giving it to a member who is attending. Chrissie Mains will be attending and will be happy to do this on your behalf.
If you do plan to attend the AGM, please let us know if you are willing to do this for other members (feel free to comment on this post or email Chrissie). And of course if you are planning to attend the conference, whether or not you will be going to the AGM, let us know that too, and we can make plans to meet up in Vancouver.
UPDATE to the UPDATE: We’ve been able to reschedule for the following Wednesday, May 18, same time, same place.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, we’ve had to cancel this get-together.
Once again, we’ll be at the Second Cup in Kensington between 5 and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, for coffee and conversation with Calgary-area editors.
There are so many topics we could talk about:
our recent Grammar Boot Camp workshop and our plans for a Social Media for Editors workshop later this spring
the upcoming national conference in Vancouver from June 10-12; if you’re planning to attend, it would be great to make plans for lunch or coffee while we’re there
the twig’s first Annual General Meeting scheduled for the end of summer
finding a more permanent place for get-togethers and workshops
creating study groups for the November certification exams
…. and so much more!
Looking forward to seeing some of you there. RSVP’s are appreciated (so we have an idea of how large a table we need to find) but feel free to drop by for a few minutes or longer. For RSVP’s and questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHERE: CommunityWise Resource Centre, 223 12th Ave SW, Calgary, AB
Frances Peck has been working with words for over two decades, whether writing them, editing them, or teaching people about them. The author of Peck’s English Pointers and co-author of the popular HyperGrammar website, Frances teaches editing at Simon Fraser University and Douglas College. She is a partner with West Coast Editorial Associates and a long-time member of EAC
Want to flex your grammar (and punctuation and usage) muscles? This intensive seminar will put you through the paces. It focuses on high-level errors, the ones that make it past editors and proofreaders and into print.
Identify and fix easy-to-miss grammar, punctuation, and usage mistakes
Decide when (occasionally) to leave mistakes alone, depending on audience and genre
Apply the most up-to-date rules and editing practices
Editors Calgary (a twig of EAC) is happy to announce a professional development workshop featuring Frances Peck, who is bringing her Grammar Boot Camp to Calgary on Wednesday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Watch this space for further details about venue and pricing.
Frances Peck of West Coast Editorial Associates
Frances Peck has been working with words for over two decades, whether writing them, editing them, or teaching people about them. The author of Peck’s English Pointers (available through the Language Portal of Canada) and co-author of the popular HyperGrammar website and Peck’s English Pointers, an ebook available through the Language Portal of Canada, Frances teaches editing at Simon Fraser University and Douglas College. She is a partner with West Coast Editorial Associates and a long-time member of EAC.
About Grammar Boot Camp
Want to flex your grammar (and punctuation and usage) muscles? This intensive seminar will put you through the paces. Focusing on high-level errors—the ones that make it past the eyes of language professionals and into print—this session will help you identify and fix the most puzzling mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and usage.