Written by Ritu Guglani; copy edited by Emma Caplan
In September 2017, I participated in Vancouver Public Library and Editors BC’s Blue Pencil series for the first time. I met with three authors for 30 minutes each to discuss their work and offer editing advice.
Highway delays and construction zone diversions stalled me on Brunette Avenue and gave me a choice: get frustrated with being late or make the best of the situation. Either way, I was going to be late. I called the library (hands-free, of course) to let them know the first author would certainly have to wait. Authors as a community are sympathetic souls; they waited patiently.
My first author was in her 20s and already a master of short-story writing. Her intriguing style of writing matched her personality. I could tell that she had worked very hard to keep her short stories interesting and have them end with a twist. Her stories were ideal submissions for the contests she planned to submit them to.
My second author’s historical novel was of very high calibre. I think she has a great future as an author. I hope with all my heart that our consultation inspires her to go back to her novel with gusto and keep pursuing her goals.
My third author, Mrs. X., submitted part of a memoir about her life with her husband and seven children that captivated me from the first line. My author’s two daughters accompanied her to our meeting.
The amazing Mrs. X.
Mrs. X. has always kept a journal, and her children are transferring the story of her life to a digital format in preparation for its publication. Notebooks filled with Mrs. X.’s flawless handwriting start with when she met her husband as a teenager and carry on through their elopement, the births of their seven children, and their move from the Caribbean to the United States and finally, to BC.
A particularly inspirational part of her story happened during her and her family’s time in the United States. A boy had set their house on fire, and the judge in the case ruled that the family had to adopt him. Mrs. X.’s family had a choice: they could be upset about the judge’s decision or make the best of what they had been given. Either way, they would be responsible for the young man. So, they took him under their wing and made him a part of their family.
As I drove back from the library to Surrey in the dark, the highway now clear and traffic flowing, I thought a lot about Mrs. X.’s family. People like them motivate and inspire me to stay positive as I set my short-term and long-term goals.
In India, I was a qualified practising gynaecologist, but I could not get licensed to practise in my first year after we came to Canada. Stalled, despite my best efforts, I had the choice to be upset about not being able to practise or make the best of what life had given me. Canada’s licensing system for internationally trained physicians was not going to change anytime soon, either way. So, I made the switch to writing and editing and to do my best with what I had and follow my heart.
In my editing journey so far, I have edited many genres of writing: mundane medical manuscripts, absorbing historical fantasies, and even unmentionable erotic fiction. Each author has inspired me and helped me grow as a writer. Mrs. X.’s story, though, will stay with me as my personal inspiration and motivation.
Ritu loves plain language, and her work as a freelance author, editor, and medical technical writer reflects her personality – it engages and informs her readers while respecting their time and intelligence. She loves to bring a story alive. A proud member of the Editors Association of Canada (BC Branch), Ritu is committed to building a stronger community of writing professionals. Contact Ritu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emma Caplan edits client-facing documents and takes pride in making them sales-ready and reader-friendly. She has additional experience in quality control and proofreading. For more than six years, Emma has worked in the business consulting and professional services sectors, producing documents such as reports, proposals, and project qualifications. She is currently enrolled in SFU’s Editing Certificate program, a complement to her bachelor’s degree in business management. In her free time, Emma enjoys hiking, travelling, and creating jewelry. Connect with her on LinkedIn, or browse through her shop on Etsy.
Image by Shutterstock.