Donning an Editor’s Hat:
By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)
I’m a writer first and foremost, but since joining Shameless Magazine over a year ago, I have had to also don the hat of an editor for the column “Beyond the Books.” The Beyond the Books column was started when I joined the Shameless team and it aims to give a voice to Indigenous peoples and discuss issues that are not normally talked about in books or the classroom.
People may think that being a writer and an editor are similar, and maybe in a sense they are because you’re sitting at your computer, researching, fact checking and poring over articles, but that is where the similarity ends. An editor’s job goes even further than that of a writer-they have to look at the nitty gritty of the article before them and make sure it follows the following
1. A good lede
2. Well researched content and flow
3. Grammatical errors and spelling and
4. A good closing to the article being written
I have found that once I receive an article, I have to go over the article to see if it flows properly, and that it makes sense. Often there is little editing to do, but if there is significant editing to do, I will email the writer back with suggestions on how to improve their article. This is where I find wearing two hats can be difficult because as a writer, myself, I’m used to getting feedback and receiving feedback can be difficult.
Feedback can be difficult, because someone can feel so passionate about his or her article that they don’t think there is anything wrong with the article they have written. So when I have to give feedback, I try to think of how I would like to hear feedback and offer the same to my writers.I have been fortunate to have some editors who have really been encouraging, and I find that what I have learned from them, I try to bring to the work that I do with Shameless Magazine.
When I feel that something has to be re worked, I stress the importance of the writers voice being loud and clear in their article. As writers, it is important for our voices to be heard, and as an editor, I never want to take a person's voice away from them.
Deadlines are important when you are an editor. My biggest pet peeve is assigning an article to someone and then the deadline passes and there is no word from the writer. As a writer, myself who lives by deadlines, I know how important deadlines are and I like to stress that to my writers also. If a deadline is missed, I send an email gently reminding a writer that their article is due. I check to see where they are at, and ask if they need any assistance. Sometimes I will extend a deadline but only if I am given permission by Shameless Magazine’s editorial director, Sheila Sampath. Fortunately, I have only had to do that maybe once in my tenure as an editor with Shameless.
I love that Beyond the Books gives a voice to Indigenous peoples but I have also found that in my role as an editor, it has been difficult to recruit and retain Indigenous writers and/or bloggers.
“Shameless is feminist magazine for teen girls and trans youth. Our print magazine is produced three times a year and is distributed throughout Canada, and we host an active feminist blog dealing with issues in ways that are accessible to youth.”
As the only First Nations voice in the magazine, I want to be able to bring forward an inclusive voice for all First Nations, Inuit, Metis peoples because Shameless Magazine is a magazine that is sensitive to all communities.
I love being a part of the Shameless Magazine team. It has taught me that I can be more than just a writer, because the Shameless team have shown that they have faith in me and what I can do beyond being just a writer.
(This is a cross post with Shameless Magazine)