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




9864007066_4a196b364d_z

Tim Robertson

Fear, loathing, and the erosion of civil liberties

The hysteria currently being concocted by Australia’s political leaders is a smokescreen for the more serious threat facing everyone – an attack of the very freedoms and values our nation has been built on. Read more »

308982705_be9f94455b_b

Marika Sosnowski

Back inside: Life on the Syrian-Turkish border

In Turkey, less than 50 kilometres from the border, Syrians have chosen their favourite cafes, have opened Aleppine sweet shops and set up stores in the old city. Read more »

Frances Abbott

David Donaldson

Why #whitehousegate matters

A few days after the release of the budget, in which the Coalition government announced it was spreading the burden by increasing university fees, cutting school funding, and cutting welfare for young people comes a story that confirms what many already suspect to be the nature of opportunity: it’s much easier to come by if you’re born into privilege. Read more »

theartofasking_image

Julia Tulloh

Living on fans: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Rather than enticing people to pay for music through marketing campaigns and radio play, Amanda Palmer is interested in connecting with her fans, becoming friends with them, and creating a system of exchange within the community that is formed. This means that art is not often payed for with money. Read more »

womeninclothes-600

Carody Culver

Closet Concerns: Women in Clothes

Women in Clothes wants to tell a more inclusive story, to reveal the pleasures, hang-ups and complexities that reside in the simple act of dressing ourselves, and to remind us that we don’t perform our style rituals in a vacuum. Read more »

4285342-3x4-700x933

Kylie Maslen

The Harp in the South and other stories I wasn’t taught at school

The classics I studied at school were certainly great works, but how relevant are these books to young Australians? Yes, they were valuable to study as examples of technical skill. But they were all by men, all white and all dead. Read more »

theartofasking_image

Julia Tulloh

Living on fans: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Rather than enticing people to pay for music through marketing campaigns and radio play, Amanda Palmer is interested in connecting with her fans, becoming friends with them, and creating a system of exchange within the community that is formed. This means that art is not often payed for with money. Read more »

Taypic

Julia Tulloh

Lovers, haters, and TaySway’s 1989

TaySway is a polariser: haters really hate her. The issue for many feminists and critics is that they simply don’t like Taylor’s version of authenticity, which happens to be embodied by a blonde, white, straight, American women from a reasonably privileged background. Read more »

15115828030_526f79c515_z

Julia Tulloh

The celebrity spokesperson phenomenon

What should we expect celebrity advocates to deliver? Emma Watson is not a full-time activist, but if she inspires young people to take an interest in gender equality, is that not a good thing? Read more »

Screen-Shot-2014-10-01-at-11.22.21-AM

Matilda Dixon-Smith

Can too many parts destroy an adaptation? The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

It’s a relief to feel the weight of fidelity lift off an adaptation film, as Mockingjay: Part 1 becomes a meta-exploration of fame, franchise and future. Read more »

Maps to the Stars

Rochelle Siemieonwicz

Monsters in Los Angeles: Maps to the Stars and Nightcrawler

Both Maps to the Stars and Nightcrawler are peopled by monsters who may look human, but are actually spiritually deformed and morally repugnant creatures of the most loathsome kind. The suggestion implicit in each of these thrillingly creepy stories is that these ‘freaks’ are born out of and adapted to the hellish spiritual landscape of LA. Read more »

WinterSleep-2-poster-450

Rochelle Siemienowicz

A matter of time: very long films

It’s a fatal moment for any film lover: that instant when you look away from the screen and check your watch, holding it up to the light to judge how much time is left before you can escape. A wince of pain as you realise there are still 40 minutes to go. Read more »

IMG_0086

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Pictures of pictures: Monument Valley and the rise of the in-game photographer

Presenting screencapturing a game as a form of camera-free ‘photography’ gives rise to a conceptual issue. If the ‘photographer’ is moving through, and capturing, a world created entirely by others, then who exactly should take the credit for any images created? Read more »

IMG_4309

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Patrons and gamemakers in the shadow of Gamergate

There is a lot to unpack about Gamergate, and a great deal more that isn’t at all worth taking seriously, but what the patronage pseudo-controversy has drawn attention to is the fact that there are potentially huge issues with moving to a model of monetary transactions in which our payments are increasingly networked and ‘social’. Read more »

ST_Ello_600

Connor Tomas O'Brien

The Rise of the High-Minded Startup

Ello’s manifesto is the key to understanding its relative success, and how it has managed to sign up hundreds of thousands of users despite offering a wafer-thin feature set. Read more »

00page

Danielle Binks

Disability or superpower? Deaf identity in YA

‘We actually need more stories about deaf and hard of hearing characters and for their experiences to be shared in stories. Often, young readers believe they are ‘alone’ in their deafness and do not realise that there are many others like them.’ Read more »

Anne of Green Gables

Danielle Binks

Books that take you there: YA literary tourism

How has literary tourism taken on new dimensions and greater capitalism, thanks to youth literature – both old and new, book and film? Read more »

9781863956925

Danielle Binks

Mean girls, bullies and private school privilege: Alice Pung’s Laurinda

Alice Pung’s Laurinda is hard-edged satire cloaked in contemporary YA: exploring class dynamics, everyday racism and bullying. Read more »

2530720_1332353117589.53res_500_400

Chad Parkhill

Mo money mo problems: The value of music in the age of streaming

While music streaming services have existed for a few years now – practically aeons in internet time – it is only recently that their impact on patterns of musical consumption and on musicians’ and labels’ revenues has truly begun to be felt. Read more »

2839965900_c23f818c97_z

Jane Howard

How many women composers? Classical music’s invisible women

After receiving yet another press release for a classical music concert, I tweeted an email I’d sent to the publicist asking why there were no women composers in the program. From then it became a regular task I set myself: when I received a music press release, I’d ask #howmanywomencomposers, and post the results on Twitter. Read more »

3827910256_89135334f0_z

Chad Parkhill

Who killed Amanda Palmer fandom?

Fans and consumers tend to avoid music made by people whose actions disagree with their moral compasses, and, conversely, to reward those whose actions align with them. But are they right to do so? Read more »

105768385_5672eae965_z

Stephanie Van Schilt

Bananas without pyjamas? Budgets cuts and the next generation of ABC kids

From my humble beginnings watching kids’ programming, I learnt that ‘Your ABC’ was indeed, our ABC. The protests and public outcry which followed this week’s announcement of cuts to the ABC demonstrate its crucial role in fostering a sense of community for Australians. Read more »

Marry Me - Season Pilot

Stephanie Van Schilt

Happy Hangovers and False Starts: Happy Endings and Marry Me

Binging rarely ends well. Binge eating is how unwanted food babies happen. Binge drinking is how inhibitions and memories are erased. Binge-watching a TV show can take over your life. Which is exactly what happened a few years ago when I fell in love with Happy Endings. Read more »

thecode_main-620x349

Stephanie Van Schilt

An obligation to be kind? Australian TV critics and The Code

When Margaret Pomeranz recently spoke out about the obligation of local film critics to support the Australian film industry, she generated an interesting conversation in the critical community. Are critics who discuss the small screen in the public sphere obligated to be critically kind in their local coverage? Read more »