With projects now in full production mode, we caught up with some of our classmates to hear about their experiences editing a range of different texts.
Rosalie, Sammy and I edited the articles for the Whitireia Nursing & Health Journal. Due to the wide variety of authors and topics, I think each of us experienced different challenges. My biggest hurdles involved author care. Even with the gentlest and most encouraging feedback, some writers feel very uncomfortable with the editing process. Finding the best route to a clear and error free manuscript can be rough when authors feel pushed, criticised or threatened. I learned that communication and compromise are key editing skills. In the end, we produced some excellent nursing articles about topics that were completely new to me. And I’ve learned so many odd facts for pub quiz night!
This year I was lucky enough to be one of the editors for Trish Harris’s poetry collection, My Wide White Bed. I love reading and writing poetry but I had never edited poetry before. The manuscript had been through structural edits with the publisher so our job was mostly to copy edit. We also offered a fresh pair of eyes (you can never have too many!) to look for anything throughout the collection that just didn’t quite sit right with us. Trish’s collection used very little punctuation and our main editorial issue was trying to maintain this style while also making sure the poems retained their original meaning. We added a lot of commas, took them back out and then added some back in. Every line had to be treated differently than the previous ones and punctuation was only used where necessary. In a few places we asked the author to develop a thought or idea she had touched on. It was so awesome to see what she came back with and to see how the collection had grown and taken shape.
This year I had the enormous privilege of working on Dawn Raids, the brainchild of one of New Zealand’s most iconic comedic and theatrical figures – Oscar Kightley. The play, originally performed in 1997, already has a firmly established history and has its roots in one of our country’s most controversial events. It was therefore with trepidation that we edited the freshly rewritten play, as there are many elements – cultural, political and experiential – that we had to tread very lightly around. Luckily, we worked with some exceptionally skilled people in the literary field who have been able to guide our decisions to ensure that the voice of this play is heard as the playwright intended. We have come away from the editing process with a much deeper understanding not just of publishing, but also of the dark past of our own country – how much we have and still need to progress from here.