Written by Stephanie Warner; copy edited by Meagan Kus
Navy man, kung fu expert, Dungeons & Dragons player, musician, and movie extra! Meet Reg Rozee, editing student.
Reg is working toward an Editing certificate through SFU’s Writing and Communications program. He retired from the Canadian navy in spring 2014 and moved to Vancouver.
We met in a sunny Caffé Artigiano on Main Street. Unfortunately, Vancouver’s early spring had brought on a bad case of allergies. In spite of this, Reg enthusiastically talked about his naval career and his love of words. Sipping a large mocha helped his sore throat.
You’ve had a varied career path. Tell me about some of the stops along the way.
My first real career was the army. I’d just turned 20 and went to basic training. I was a radio operator and was posted to what was then called the Special Service Force. I spent four years there, and I did a UN tour in Iraq in 1988.
I went back to university, and I totally fell in love with geography. I worked in the digital cartography field for a little while, but there weren’t a lot of job opportunities. I ended up retraining as a computer programmer, something I’d done as a hobby since I was 13 or 14. I worked as an IT consultant for about 10 years.
After the Internet boom had bust, I decided to go back into the military. But this time, I went into the navy as a direct entry officer. The main reason I didn’t join the navy the first time was that I grew up in Nova Scotia. I thought I would probably just stay there in Dartmouth. Ironically, I travelled a lot more in the navy than in the army!
You got into writing and editing through the navy.
I had a training accident, and I damaged my eye. After the accident, I had a recurring condition that meant I needed to be near a hospital, so I couldn’t go to sea.
I got a job at the Trident newspaper. It was a great place to work. Everyone there was very talented. They were all civilians except for me. The editor was happy to have me there, because I helped to explain how the military works—the military is its own world.
What was your biggest challenge as a writer and editor of the navy newspaper?
Probably submissions coming from ships that were deployed. When you have a deadline, it’s a huge problem to get photos and other things on deadline. You can’t just go down and talk to them. They’re in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
How will your navy background influence your planned editing career?
I’d like to edit military and nautical publications. One of the reasons I joined the navy is that I’ve always loved all things maritime. I really like that genre, and I have a unique angle of knowledge that I think can be a real edge. There’s so much unusual terminology. Just knowing the difference between port and starboard is hard enough for non-nautical people.
So, you must read a lot of military fiction?
I like the Patrick O’Brian books. But I read a lot of stuff, not just military and nautical. I actually just bought One Hundred Years of Solitude at Book Warehouse before I came here! I’ve also just finished a Jim Butcher fantasy series about a wizard private eye.
Has taking editing classes changed the way you write?
I think it has, actually. I write background content for Dungeons & Dragons. It’s non-published content for our group. When I’m writing I think more about what it would look like if it were going for publication. I’ve become a little more conscious of things I shouldn’t do as much in my own writing.
Your wife, Suzie, writes a food blog called Suzie the Foodie. Do you edit or proofread her work?
Sometimes, but I use a really light touch. She has a very distinct voice.
In addition to writing and editing, you also play the guitar and do kung fu.
When I’m working and just need a five or ten minute break, I pick up a guitar. I find it’s really good to settle me. I do kung fu between three and five times a week, depending on my energy.
And you’re also a movie extra!
Most recently, I was a zombie. I tried to eat one of the stars! Sometimes things get edited out; I hope it gets in. It would be wonderful!
Stephanie Warner has been busy for the past couple of months travelling in the past and present. She’s written about her travels in England and the Isle of Man at stephanieannwarner.wordpress.com. She’s also been busy researching and writing about her grandfather, an early Tofino pioneer, at haroldmonksproject.wordpress.com.
Meagan Kus is a freelance copy editor and proofreader with an 18-year background in arts administration.
Image provided by Reg Rozee