KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

2014 columns, Books

Giving voice to a silent profession

by Carody Culver , June 11, 2014Leave a comment

editing

 

Some would say that behind every good book is a good editor; and while this might not always be the case, the role editors play in the process of ushering new writing into the world – whether it’s from new or established writers – is both vitally important and strangely overlooked. So when this year’s Emerging Writers’ Festival program included an entire day devoted to the editing profession, those of us who spend much of our working time detecting and correcting inconsistencies in written work engaged in some silent fist-pumping: finally, a chance to discuss the intricacies of what happens on the other side of the page or screen and spend time with people who legitimately enjoy discussing things like the Oxford comma.

It’s not that editors necessarily crave more explicit acknowledgment – few of those wishing to enter the profession are doing so for glory and accolades, and anyone who does won’t be labouring under that particular misapprehension for long. However, beyond postgraduate university courses, there are relatively few opportunities for new or aspiring editors to network with existing professionals or get a leg up in an increasingly tough industry.

‘Editing as a profession has traditionally been an apprenticeship relationship, and these days people have to be extremely generous with their time to work with emerging editors and give feedback on your editing outside of a formal educational environment,’ says Emerging Editors Coordinator Fiona Dunne. It seems that it’s becoming harder and harder to earn a decent living from editing (or writing, for that matter), as publishing houses tighten their belts, the government slashes arts funding and growing numbers of students enrol in university editing courses only to graduate and end up competing for a handful of jobs.

But the conversations had at Emerging Editors – where panels covered topics such as how editors discover writers, the world of online editing and how editors shape cultural and political debate – indicated that this kind of negative attitude isn’t entirely warranted. No, editors won’t be sleeping on beds of money anytime soon (‘no one gets into editing for the big bucks,’ observed Affirm Press’s Aviva Tuffield, one of the day’s panellists), but that doesn’t mean anyone wanting to become an editor faces insurmountable obstacles.

It’s still likely to be a tough journey – the ‘Going Solo with Start-up Publications’ panel, in particular, which featured Robert Skinner of The Canary Press, Amy Middleton of Archer Magazine and Mitchell Oakley-Smith of Manuscript, made it evident just how tight profit margins are for those wanting to strike out on their own, even if – as with all three panellists – they’re making sales and establishing strong reputations. Nonetheless, there was also a real sense that Australia is producing some damn fine writing, and editors have a huge part to play in discovering new voices, fostering existing talent and helping shape a constantly evolving – but still robust – publishing landscape.

Dunne feels that Emerging Editors was ‘quite a strong day overall, and I’m extremely glad that [EWF Director Sam Twyford-Moore] recognised the need for highlighting the work of editors and publishers in the community/industry. It’s incredibly important to invest in talented writers, but to have a healthy literary community, it’s just as vital to strengthen the skills and networks of editors, designers, publishers and everyone that contributes to the publication and surrounding debate of Australian work’.

And as recognition for editors and their work grows, so too will professional opportunities for those starting out: last year, for the first time, Seizure – a self-described ‘launchpad for Australian writing’ – opened its annual Viva la Novella competition to editors as well as writers, offering a fantastic career milestone opportunity to four editors, myself included. The winning writers were revealed at EWF last week at ‘Night of the Living Novellas’, during which Sam Twyford-Moore took the opportunity to (wisely) suggest that someone should start a #paytheeditors hashtag – as Kill Your Darlings’ own Emily Laidlaw remarked during the festival, ‘the #paythewriters discussion often seems to forget that a lot of editors are working voluntarily too’.

Could we soon see this change? The success of Viva la Novella and EWF’s Emerging Editors day can, at the very least, make people more aware of what editors do and give some much-needed hope to those wanting to wield the red pen for a living. And while that doesn’t mean that anyone’s getting a pay rise just yet, creating further professional development opportunities for editors (notwithstanding any further lacerations to our federal arts budget) is arguably just as important. Emily Stewart, another one of Viva la Novella’s four winning editors, noted during EWF that the fates of writers and editors are ‘twinned’ – and for the sake of the publishing industry’s survival, we’d do well to keep that in mind.

Carody Culver is a Brisbane-based freelance writer, editor and part-time bookseller. 

ACO logo




9780733633782

Kill Your Darlings

What We’re Reading: Readings staff share their July picks

Looking for a book recommendation? Staff from Readings bookshop share what they’ve been reading this month. Read more »

lead_960

James Tierney

I Call The Shots: The provocation of violent women

In a Western culture increasingly stripped of its old taboos, violent acts by women – real and imagined – still possess the genuine power to shock. Cultural representations of violent women can both affirm and react against the kind of pernicious questioning that posits women as fundamentally, and fatally, reactive. Read more »

9781925106510

Oliver Mol

July First Book Club: Read an excerpt from Oliver Mol’s Lion Attack!

At the Kill Your Darlings First Book Club event in July, Oliver Mol will discuss his debut memoir, Lion Attack!. Read an extract from this funny, energetic and original coming-of-age story, which interweaves stories from Oliver’s childhood in Texas and his young adulthood in Melbourne. Read more »

abortion

Rebecca Shaw

Choice Without Stigma: Dismantling the abortion taboo

Abortion is still illegal in the criminal code in Queensland – even in this, the Year of Our Beyoncé 2015. While women are unlikely to face practical obstacles to abortion due to the law, it can still cause isolation and unnecessary fear, and creates a stigma around the act. Read more »

17177200132_2383e88c36_k

Rebecca Shaw

Rage Against the Marriage: The inanity of same sex marriage debate in Australia

I am someone who is completely comfortable in my sexuality, and who classifies myself as the genus Lesbionisos. I am 100% certain that I am not abnormal, an abomination, or in any way inferior to heterosexual people. Sometimes I even secretly think non-heterosexuals might be superior. But I haven’t always been this assured. Read more »

clouds-of-sila-maria-1

Rebecca Shaw

The curse of the ‘gal pals’

As a well-known humourless, angry, hairy arm-pitted, feminist lesbian, I encounter daily issues that I can place on a scale from things that mildly irritate me all the way to things that completely offend me. Read more »

Zombies

Michelle Roger

It’s All Just Preparation for the Zombie Apocalypse

‘She’s just another Walking Dead hanger-on,’ I hear you say. Well, yes, I am partial to a bit of walker action. And yes, I may have entertained the odd erotic daydream about a crossbow carrying, scraggy-bearded redneck – but this is not where my zombie obsession began. Come gather around people. Hear my obsessive zombie-loving origin story. Read more »

tom-cruise-jack-reacher-premiere-postponed

Chris Somerville

A lit match in a box of wet dynamite: Tom Cruise is Jack Reacher

I first watched Jack Reacher a few years ago, in a spate of insomnia. The plot is a confused mess, both needlessly intricate and incredibly simple. I’m not going to go into it, mainly because I don’t actually know why the people in this movie do anything. Read more »

Partisan

Joanna Di Mattia

To experience the world with blinkers on: Ariel Kleiman’s Partisan

Partisan beautifully evokes that complex space between childhood and adulthood, when we start to question the worldview we have inherited – when we begin to see the world through our own eyes. It is both a coming-of-age story, and an innocence-coming-undone story. Read more »

3ab01d05-2590-4aa4-80f4-45fab0eccec4-2060x1236

Anwen Crawford

Heart of Darkness: UnREAL‘s ruthless reality

Everlasting, the show-within-a-show at the dark centre of new American television series UnREAL, is a fantasy blend of champagne cocktails, pool parties and true love. Everlasting is a Bachelor-style game show in which a dozen immaculately groomed women compete for a handsome millionaire husband, and its relationship to real life is, like any ‘reality’ show, non-existent. Nothing goes to air on Everlasting that has not been scripted, staged, and edited for maximum controversy. Read more »

Zombies

Michelle Roger

It’s All Just Preparation for the Zombie Apocalypse

‘She’s just another Walking Dead hanger-on,’ I hear you say. Well, yes, I am partial to a bit of walker action. And yes, I may have entertained the odd erotic daydream about a crossbow carrying, scraggy-bearded redneck – but this is not where my zombie obsession began. Come gather around people. Hear my obsessive zombie-loving origin story. Read more »

OITNB2

Anwen Crawford

Still in Prison: The limitations of Orange is the New Black

No, I haven’t binge-watched the entire new season of Orange Is The New Black in one sleepless, bleary-eyed frenzy. This season, the show’s third, doesn’t lend itself to that kind of viewing. The pace is slower, the cliff-hangers missing. Read more »

ss_8df8236403f5aad45eeedd33d2bd545e45435b39.1920x1080

Katie Williams

The More Things Change: Choice and consequence in Life is Strange

You can either be a benevolent hero or a monster, but few games deal with the multitudes contained by actual people. And what does it matter, anyway? There’s no such thing as regret when it comes to in-game decision-making – not when you can so easily restart the game to see what outcome will result from choosing Option B instead. Read more »

svfw crop

Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

AnimalCrossing copy

Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

2015GISELLE_Artists of The Australian Ballet. PhotoJeffBusby

Jane Howard

The Beautiful and the Dated: Australian Ballet’s Giselle

The weight of history sits heavily on the Australian Ballet’s Giselle. One of the most enduringly popular ballets from the romantic period, there is much to delight in its presence on stage and its lasting lineage. But 175 years after its debut, in a production that premiered 30 years ago, the sheen of Giselle has been dulled. Read more »

CrawlMeBlood_20150607_261_LoRes copy

Jane Howard

Adhocracy: Lifting the curtain on the creative process

Every June long weekend I wrap myself up in several extra layers and make my way to the Waterside Worker’s Hall in Port Adelaide for Adhocracy, Vitalstatistix’s annual hothouse that brings together artists from around the country for a weekend of creative development. Read more »

Orlando #2 - THE RABBLE

Jane Howard

This Is a Story of Artistic Excellence

This is a story of the first four plays I saw at Malthouse Theatre. It’s a story that can only continue as long as support for independent artists continues; it’s a story that can only keep growing as long as support for independent artists grows. It’s a story of where artistic excellence comes from, and how we get to see it on our main stages. Read more »