Editors: Writers Most Valuable Allies

Blogging feels like freedom, but surprisingly, what I have most missed while creating these freelance blogs is an editor, a second set of eyes to pick up any mistakes. No matter how much we have written, we overlook details when proofing our own work. We “read” what is in our heads, not the words as they appear. Similarly, when new to a genre, we may not realize how style or technology impacts the process.

With WordPress, options abound, and I know I’ll appreciate them as I become more proficient. However, the tiny window for drafting means I can see only one paragraph at a time. Too, I still haven’t found the spell and grammar checks, but initially, I posted without ever proofreading a black and white print copy of the entire article.

As an individual reader and writer, I applaud the concept of going paperless, but it doesn’t work for me. I am a print learner, so seeing the words on paper is the best process for my learning style. I need to view the entire draft to know if it makes sense. I need see the printed words, pick up my red pen and separate myself from the content. I need to become an editor, and that is an extremely difficult task if working with our own words.

When proofing our drafts, we don’t notice that we have repeated ourselves or bored readers with irrelevant details. Similarly, we may not recognize that what is clear in our own heads is not clear for the detached reader. Certainly, I have improved my process. I’m using a word processor for drafts, printing the posts and proofing with pen in hand. But I will always miss some mistakes. So, I was elated when a good friend said she would edit and proofread for me.

I am so pleased to introduce Shirlee Smith Matheson to all of you. She is a talented and experienced writer, author of 16 published books and many short stories. A popular public historian, her specialty is Canadian aviation, as well as the stories and history of northern Canada. Nine of her books are adult nonfiction, but also, she has written seven novels for the juvenile and young adult market. Shirlee has offered hundreds of readings and workshops at libraries, schools and museums, and she has mentored writers as writer-in-residence for Medicine Hat Public Library, Calgary Public Library and Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society (AWCS), Calgary. As well, she has instructed workshops for young writers’ conferences throughout Alberta and B.C. In addition, she has taught for Mount Royal University and AWCS.

Herself an award winning author, Shirlee has been a judge for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, a responsibility that has required her to read 60 or more books to determine which ones should be the award winners. An avid reader and a graduate of Athabasca University, Shirlee is a member of numerous writers’ organization and aviation museums. In 2001, she received an Honorary Associate of Arts Degree from Northern Lights College in recognition of her contributions to the literary arts. Shirlee understands the power of words and the world of writers.

How fortunate I am to have her help. Shirlee, what an honour it is to welcome you to my blog and to the blogosphere! For more details about Shirlee and her work, be sure to check out her website www.ssmatheson.ca

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