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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writing Spaces: Editorial Practice

Greetings! As of earlier today, I have completed all of the classes, assessments, and the exam of my very first year of university. Now I'm considering participating in NaNoWriMo seeing as I'm free for November, though I'm not committed to it yet because I'm in the middle of writing WALLS and I'm not sure if it has a whole 50k words left to it or if I want to start something else before I've finished it.

Anyway, I thought that seeing as I'd finished university for the year, I should probably get the re-cap of the final Writing Spaces lecture out here. In our final lecture, we were visited by some of this year's editors of Verandah, Deakin's annual student-run literature and art journal. They shared some of their experiences with us and gave us some advice on editing not just our own work, but also editing the work of others.


Editing is an intervention on behalf of the reader, but editors also have a duty of care to the writer. This can sometimes be conflicting, especially within the context of being employed as an editor and having to apply what the publishers want to the situation. Because of this, editors have to be sensitive, tactful, and brave when identifying what the piece is, what is might be and what it could be. Another place editors have to practice extra sensitivity is when they undertake the task cross-cultural editing. This is for various reasons including making critical, aesthetic, and technical decisions, especially when translating from another language. Knowledge of the other culture is vital for cross-cultural editing to work smoothly, because you cannot edit in ignorance. The guest speakers used the example of an Australian children's book written by an indigenous author from the point of view of an Aboriginal child, which editors then tried to make 'white' because they didn't understand and couldn't accept the cultural differences that the piece presented.

There are a few different stages of editing, including structural/content editing, copyediting, and proofreading. The last two are checking for consistency, especially of spelling and punctuation. Editors need to be well-read and have good literary and writing etiquette skills.

The Verandah editors shared a few of their own experiences from their year on the journal's editing team. Being a part of the editing team wasn't just about editing for them, because they also had to take care of the business side of things. The Verandah team had to handle financing, distribution, production, design, and marketing. This is where I should mention that the Verandah editing team consists of a bunch of students in the third year of the same course that I am currently undertaking, which generally doesn't focus on such business skills, presenting them with a new challenging experience. Verandah is run by third year students of the Professional and Creative Writing major every year, so I will most definitely be applying for a position for the 2015 edition.

Of course, there was editing to be done. The team at Verandah followed the Australian Style Manual when editing and had to learn to work with the writers of accepted submissions to negotiate edits and get pieces to fit into the overall style of the journal.

The guest speakers also gave a word of advice for writers. Writers need to be able to separate themselves from their writing in order to edit. I think a good way of doing this is to have some time between completing the draft and starting to edit. There are two reasons for this. 1) A break from the piece will allow you to read with fresh eyes that don't automatically correct mistakes without acknowledging their incorrectness. 2) You won't take criticism from yourself and other people so personally and you'll find it easier to listen to, accept, and consider criticism.

I could go on about editing and my editing processes, but I will save it for a later post.

How do you feel about editing? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? Also, who else is doing NaNoWriMo? Tell me about your plans for the month of writing. 

- Bonnee.

22 comments:

  1. Congrats on surviving your first semester! As for editing, I love it. I'm something of an "edit as you go" writer, though, like I'll read each chapter three times before moving on and then read five completed chapters in a row when I finish a set of five, but that's me. You'll find your groove in no time! :)

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    1. I used to be an "edit as you go" writer, but then I found that I would lose momentum and drive to continue writing. I found it was best to just get the first draft out before I forgot little details or my style changed too much. Of course, that's just me. It's kind of cool to see people with such different approaches to editing. Thanks for visiting, David :)

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  2. Congrats on one year done! Perfect time to do NaNo if you're so inclined.

    And I have a friend who is a book translator in Serbia. One of his difficulties is with figuring out how to translate the different cultural details yet maintain the original "feel" of a novel for the readers in his country. Takes a tactful editor/translator to get that right I think.

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    1. I have never had a free November before, so this really is a perfect opportunity.

      It's scary to think that there aren't always exact words to translate to when you're talking about different languages. I'd be terrified of losing the authenticity of the novel through translations. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Congratulations on completing your first year! It's all down hill from here :) I did JuNoWriMo last year, but I don't think I could do something like that again. As for editing, I can sum it up in one word: YUCK!

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    1. I'm aiming to keep the most positive attitude possible towards my studies, although I'm sure it's certainly not going to get any easier. I'm guessing JuNoWriMo is essentially the same thing as NaNoWriMo, but in June instead of November. Editing can be grueling, but it's something I love doing, though I can definitely understand why man people don't. Thanks so much for visiting my blog :)

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  4. You gave the best advice for editing: To take time away from the manuscript and then come back with fresh eyes. Editing and Revisions are very important and it seems that you can do it forever. I can't see myself participation in the NaNo. Can't finish 50K words in one month, being a slower writer. Enjoy your vacation from school and I wonder if you can start edit for $$. I saw online a few American students having their small editing company, offering their services for authors. Foreign students will d need you.

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    1. I love editing, so I've already had a bit of time to figure out the best strategies for approaching the task. I have heard of many people who set their own goals for NaNo rather than going for the usual 50K words. I know at least one of my university friends has said she doesn't want to have to worry about looking at deadlines and word-counts for a while now that she's finished all of her assignments, which I also understand. I'd love to start editing for money, but I want to have finished the editing unit the university offers to second-years first, just for the sake of having a bit more practice and knowledge. Thanks for visiting, Giora :)

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  5. I'm a future editor, so I guess you can say that I'm in it for the long haul. I'm writing a paper on editing for my College English class. Once I'm done with it I'll have plenty of tips. It's really tough to organize such a large thought. I'm going through the full process via an example.

    I am not doing NaNo this year. I "attempted" it the last two years and epically failed both times. The first time I quit at just under 2,600 words. Let's just say I've written flash pieces longer than last year's "attempt"...

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    1. Editing is my love, so I'm with you in the long haul. The paper you're writing sounds interesting. I hope you'll share your knowledge with us when you're done :)

      I know of authors who have tried and failed NaNoWriMo many times, but I don't think it's about winning. I think something like NaNo is about challenging yourself and just doing your best. Fair enough if you don't want to do it though. Thanks for visiting :)

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  6. Congratulations, Bonnee, and enjoy your summer! Man, that sounds strange to say in November.

    Since I'm way behind where I expected to be,I'll be skipping NaNoWriMo, as I'll be in edits and trying to get a certain project out the door. I like editing; it's a completely different feel from drafting, but equally satisfying. Enjoy the break!

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    1. Seeing as the majority of people I meet online seem to be from the Northern Hemisphere, I'm used to the season differences at this point. Haha but thanks you :)

      I think I heard the term NaNoRevisMo at some point around this time last year? Either way, best of luck to you getting those edits done and pushing the project out the door. Thanks for stopping by, Jeff :)

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    2. Yes, you did. The last couple of years, a group of folks connected via e-mail, then facebook, to encourage and cheerlead each other through the revision process. It was a nice little support network.

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    3. That's right. I spent November last year revising KATHERINE to submit to a competition at the end of that month, though I was not explicitly participating in NaNoRevisMo or anything. Sounds like a good alternative if you've got something already written :)

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  7. I do enjoy editing--editing my own work and the work of others. I'm also hoping to do NaNo this year, but I'm not very organised this time.

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    1. I think I have negative organisational skills for NaNo at the moment, so don't feel too bad! Hope you'll reach your NaNo goals! Thanks for visiting, Lynda :D

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  8. I joke that editing is evil, but that's only because I always end up having to cut so many words at the end. It's incredible, though, how less can sometimes be more. :)

    Congratulations on such a successful first year at college!!

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    1. I was worried that I was doing something wrong at first when my word-count retracted so much... but now I find it very satisfying :) Thanks for visiting, Shari :D

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  9. Getting some space helps with the editing process - time between drafts. Makes the eyes and head fresher. Like my editor will mark things that don't make sense. And usually by the time it's back in my hands I don't know what I meant either. lol And believe me it made sense the 50 or so times i read it before sending it to my editor. That time apart is the most helpful.

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    1. I feel so silly when I look at the mistakes that don't even make sense even after I have re-read. I'm definitely more alert when I've had some time away from the piece. Thanks for visiting :)

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  10. Sounds like there was a lot to learn in the classes. It's good to get this knowledge. I don't plan to do NaNo but I've been known to change my mind at the last minute.

    Lee
    Check out my interview with viral blogger Liza Long
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Last-minute decisions can be good! I'm hoping the things I've learned this year will really help me.

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