International Writers' Workshop NZ International Writers' Workshop NZ Inc

Auckland, New Zealand

Carol Squires

I have loved writing ever since I could hold a crayon, my two young brothers – and later my children and now grandchildren – providing a fertile testing ground for my monster, dragon and fairy stories. Such stories – and my brothers – provided the inspiration for Runaway, earning third place in a 2010 IWW Memory story competition.

In my working life as a practising Astrologer and tutor for over 30 years, my published writing has been mainly dedicated to that subject, including producing tutorials for my Astrology by Correspondence courses. A selection of my astrology-themed articles appears on my website

My astrological journey has also taken me down the editing path. I edited and provided technical astrological knowledge for The Handbook of Celtic Astrology published by Llewellyn Publications in 1994. I am currently Editor of the New Zealand Journal of Astrology, published quarterly by the Astrology Foundation Inc, a position I have held since 2004. My enjoyment of everything involved in the editing process, from sourcing articles, to proofreading, editing, producing and publishing the Journal, led me to formalise my interest. In 2009 I enrolled in the NZIBS Book Editing, Proofreading and Publishing course, graduating with merit in September 2010.

While studying for the course, I was also involved in co-editing and proofreading IWW's 2011 Anthology, Beyond the Persimmon Tree, which proved to be an amazing learning experience for me.

I continue to love writing, and I am thankful to have been tutored by many amazing writers who have inspired me to explore all manner of genres through their classes and workshops. As a member of IWW, I feel blessed to be surrounded by such interesting people who are brilliant writers with great tales to tell and am privileged to be part of such a talented group.


A proofreading / editing journey

BEYOND THE PERSIMMON TREE : Anthology 2011 published by the International Writers' Workshop (IWW). Edited by Sue Courtney and Carol Squires, Dip.Edit

While studying for my Diploma in Book Editing, Proofreading & Publishing with NZIBS, I was also involved in editing and proofreading Beyond the Persimmon Tree : Anthology 2011 published by the International Writers' Workshop. I graduated with merit in September 2010 and the Anthology was launched in November 2010. What I learned from the course provided a wonderful foundation on which to build and test the skills learned.

On 31st May 2011, the Friends of Takapuna Library together with IWW, held a special lunchtime event to celebrate the self-publishing journey of the Anthology. I was invited – along with others involved in the publication process of Beyond the Persimmon Tree – to give a talk on the editing and proofreading process. This is my story . . .

Beyond the Persimmon Tree – the Proofing/Editing Journey

While my role was primarily that of proofreader and assistant to Sue Courtney as co-editor, it crossed all levels of the book editing process: co-editor, structural/substantive editor, copy editor, proofreader* – even that of writer, as I also put together the blurb on the back cover.

It was not long before I'd embarked on the proofreading/editing journey that I realised there was a lot more to this business than identifying typos, and putting the commas and apostrophes in the right place.

Along the way I learned some very important things.

With 38 different writers contributing to the Anthology, each had a different style; this was particularly evident with punctuation and spelling – while many stories needed very little correction, others used punctuation haphazardly – or none at all, favoured different ways of spelling, many preferring the American way of spelling or a combination of American/English – or something else again.

Establishing a consistent style throughout the Anthology was one of our first tasks. UK/NZ English was our preferred choice with the Oxford English Dictionary our primary source and reference. When something was not quite explained more comprehensive versions of the OED or an Internet search provided further clarification.

Consistency with type font and page set-up was also something to decide upon. The font needed to look good and easy on the eye. We looked at lots of different books – particularly other anthologies – and tried out various different versions of how our anthology might look. Finally choosing Bookman Old Style as pretty much ticking all the boxes.

Be true to the Writer's Voice
Correcting grammatical errors is part of the editing job. This is true – to a point. There are stories that are resplendent with poor grammar – but this can be part of the "voice" of the tale. A very simple example is one where in Alice Hooton's sequence of poems, a new immigrant enters New York harbour for the first time:

"we'd never seen
nothing like it"

poor grammar it might be – but doesn't it say heaps about the character? To "correct" the grammar in this instance would be to lose the whole feel and pathos of the story.

All 38 authors had their own voice, and I was very conscious of that throughout the whole process. One particular story had absolutely no punctuation whatsoever – but to add a heap of commas, dashes or semi-colons would have been to completely alter the tone and voice of that story. While less is always more, more is not always best.

Choosing the order of the stories
This was an interesting process in itself. Alice Hooton's prize-winning sequence of poems America was an obvious choice to lead – but what to follow?

With 250 pages to work with, and a total of 90-odd stories and poems, I had to be aware of word count, of how much space each story would take up. The Anthology needed to include a title page, imprint page, contents pages, index pages, about the authors pages, an introduction.

Being a lover of crosswords and jigsaw puzzles I decided to write the title of each story or poem onto a separate piece of paper. A spreadsheet listed title, author, word count, for me to refer to as I jiggled and juggled the pieces of paper into some semblance of order. I wanted the order to loosely follow from one theme to another – from Alice's immigrants arriving on to the shores of a new world leading into other tales of discovery and self-discovery. This led to a theme more humorous in style, then on to meeting all sorts of life's characters interspersed with murder and mayhem, with memories, stories of loss and grieving and stories of celebration. Fay McKee's Yesterday Today and Tomorrow was a fitting final piece to the jigsaw as her poem reflected on the past while today's dreams lead us to tomorrow's possibilities.

Two Pairs of Eyes are Better than One
When a writer is editing or proofreading their own work it is easy for them to overlook even the most glaring of errors, they are too close to their work, they read what they want to see rather than what is there.

A fresh pair of eyes gives a new perspective and can pick up on all sorts of different points – but two pairs of eyes are even better.

For the most part – after reading through the initial selection of stories presented and starting the editing and proofreading process from there, Sue and I transferred everything on to the computer. We did all our editing and proofreading on screen using 'Track Changes' – a wonderful tool for this sort of thing. And then emailing back and forth to each other as we checked and rechecked the changes before we were happy with the final copy.

But we were to learn that ultimately the screen does not replace good old hard copy. It is only when we received the proof copy back from Ligare Printers that we realised – oops! we missed that one. And that one. How could we do that!!!

So two pairs of eyes had to go through it all again . . . and an important lesson was learned.

But throughout this whole process there's been one thing that has really stood out for me. It's been more to me than just the process of editing and proofreading – it is the realisation that I was also part of someone else's journey – the many talented writers who entrusted their creative babies into our care. I feel blessed to have been part of the journey this Anthology has taken me on. Thank you all.

© Carol Squires

* What is the difference between proofreading, copy-editing, editing?
A. There are many levels to the editing role: from the top, the Managing editor is responsible and accountable for the entire publication process. This includes budgeting, project planning, supervising production and final distribution. Sue's role was very much that of Managing Editor.

The Structural/substantive editor has the responsibility of reviewing the manuscript and makes substantive changes or suggestions. This can involve changes or suggestions regarding the plot, the characters, the way the chapters are arranged.

A copy editor is generally the first person to correct a work. The role of the proofreader is to pick up errors the copy editor has overlooked. These include errors of punctuation, grammar, consistency, style and so on.