How Storytelling Led Me to an Editing Career & Mentorship
I love stories. As part of my first career as an assistant manager at Ten Thousand Villages, I got to tell and listen to a lot of stories. The mission behind Villages is to connect customers with the people who make the products that they buy. So if a customer ever asked “Who made this?” I could tell them about the artisan, the group that they worked with, and the country it was made in.
After a number of years working at Villages, I decided that it was time to develop my skills and pursue my other interests. I was searching for a service I could provide to people that would continue to challenge me and that would give me the flexibility to work from home or in an office. I wanted to stay involved with social justice initiatives and I wanted to continue to learn. I realized that I might need just a little more specialized training, so I began looking into certificate programs.
Becoming an Editor
It was then that I found Ryerson’s Publishing Program. I was so excited. This was the perfect program for me as it brought together all of my skills and interests. I spent a year and a half taking courses at Ryerson and I completed the certificate.
My first editing and writing project was with Not Far from the Tree, an organization that picks Toronto’s fruit and shares it with the community. I helped write its blog and edit its website and promotional materials. Recently, I connected with the Centre for Social Innovation, where I will be working with other social entrepreneurs. And I edit for academics who do research in the area of social justice and feminism.
As a small business owner, work is always interesting: I’m an editor, writer, networker, marketer, financial planner, and an administrator!
Finding a Mentor
One of the biggest supports as a freelance editor has been the Editors’ Association of Canada. The Toronto branch has many networking events and seminars every month where I can meet colleagues and find work. The Toronto branch also has a great mentorship program, which I have been a part of for the last month. The mentorship committee took the time to review my background and find a mentor who has a similar background and experience that I can benefit from. It has been so great for me to learn from someone who knows all the tricks and resources that help me do my job well.
The mentorship term is two months. I speak to my mentor on the phone for an hour each week, time permitting. During the week, as I work and encounter new tasks, I think of questions for my mentor and I write them down for our next conversation. Sometimes our conversation revolves around a piece of work that I send to her to review and sometimes we talk about general editing practices or specifics regarding contracts or other administrative tasks.
I’m so glad to have discovered this field and to have had the chance to connect with mentors and likeminded editors. Not only that, I can continue to pursue my passion for storytelling through editing. The Editors’ Association has given me the opportunity to meet colleagues that I wouldn’t normally meet as a freelancer working from home, including my mentor. I’m thankful to have been introduced to such a supportive community.
Avery Peters is a freelance editor who specializes in religion, women’s studies, social justice, and food security. She has a diverse educational background, which includes a Certificate in Sales and Marketing from Niagara College and a BA in Religious Studies and Women’s Studies from the University of Alberta. Her love of stories and passion for helping people tell them led her to complete Ryerson’s Publishing Program. She now works as a freelance editor with academics, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and running with her dog, knitting, and sewing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.averypeters.com.