Behind the Scenes

Donning an Editor’s Hat

July 7th, 2014     by Christine Miskonoodinkwe-Smith     Comments

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 team Shameless 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.

As an editor, my job is to look at articles objectively and look for the following

  1. A good lede
  2. Well researched content
  3. Grammatical errors and spelling and
  4. A good closing to the article being written

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 after checking in with Shameless’ editorial director, Sheila. Fortunately, I have only had to do that maybe once in my tenure as an editor with Shameless.

Once I receive an article, I go over the article to see if it flows properly. 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. If a re write is required, which is often rare, I also tell my writers that I want their voice to be loud and clear in their article. Our voices are important when it comes to writing and I never want to take that away from someone.

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 has shown that they have faith in me and what I can do.

Tags: all about shameless

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