When I was a high school student, I earned good marks in History and English; I barely escaped grade 10 Chemistry, but at least I could construct an essay to satisfy my teachers. In Quebec in the 70s, high school (and all its required sciences) ended when I was 16 and I gratefully immersed myself in CEGEP courses I could easily handle: more History and English. My Bachelor of Arts in University was a breeze. I didn’t have any vision for what to do with it, but it was fun. Unbeknownst to me, it was actually a preparation for a far-future occupation.
During my years as an at-home mom, I somehow gained a reputation among my friends of being good with words. Over the years, a few of them handed me their manuscripts to look at, and I found that I enjoyed doing that. Dabbling in all that text made me salivate; I wanted more.
Meanwhile, outside my dreamland of academia and novice editing, the world of serious, professional editing was unfolding: spaces after periods were lost, sentence adverbs fell in and out of favour, the mysterious Oxford comma came into common usage, and, most importantly, the Editors’ Association of
Canada was founded. It was ready and waiting for me in 2012, the year that my at-home-mom/homeschooling tasks eased up enough for me to look into the future. The story goes that the founders of the association, when deciding on the group’s name, argued for half an hour about the apostrophe in “Editors’.” Such arguments were still going on decades later when I joined the association: I knew I was in the right place when a discussion broke out on the listserv regarding the use of the hyphen in Spider-man.
By 2012, my novice editing had gone from dabble to serious and I needed training. The NCR branch seminars were easy to find and I was soon enjoying Moira White’s take on eight-step editing. The seminar was great; I wanted more. I attended seven seminars over the next two years. Every single one has turned out to be useful.
That same year, the EAC conference was in Ottawa and I had the opportunity to enjoy many more good seminars, one after another. Every session I attended was revelatory, but I was especially struck by Elizabeth d’Anjou’s advice in her seminar, “Freelance Editing: The Top 10 Things I Wish I’d Known.” Her last point was especially notable: “I’m not an editor; I’m someone who runs a freelance editing business.” I realized then that if I was seriously going to be a copy editor, I was going to have to run it as a business. That idea took some getting used to: in all my years submerged in history and literature I never once pictured myself as a business woman……and so I signed up for Christine LeBlanc’s “Starting a Freelance Career.”
The benefits of NCR seminars go on and on.