Adrienne Montgomerie has been a freelance editor for more than 15 years. She is currently one of three Dameditors and is the voice behind Copyediting.com’s new weekly series that focuses on editing from a Canadian perspective.
How did you get into editing, Adrienne?
I wanted to be a writer and had a few regular assignments from niche publications. In 1997, I was asking a veteran for advice whenever she came into the ski club where I worked. Eventually she asked me to lend a hand.
I got into editing science and math literally because I didn’t say no. There’s less competition in these subjects.
What do you find satisfying about developmental and substantive editing, the bulk of your work these days?
Working with brilliant and creative subject experts. They may be novice writers, but they know their stuff and are good teachers. Their enthusiasm really comes through in their work. Sometimes, they end every sentence with an exclamation mark! It must be quite a thrill to be in their classrooms! But for the endorphin release, I like the rhythm of copyediting and styling. It’s like scratching an itch.
Memorable projects you’ve worked on?
A friend asked me to edit the copy for a bag of fertilizer, and I had to do a heavy copyedit on a mental health compilation with 28 subject expert authors, most of whom did not have English as a first language.
Any recent adventures in editing?
Is “editorial empty nest” an adventure? I just wrapped a project that kept me busy for 10 months; I’m a little at loose ends.
My biggest challenge in recent years has been incorporating Indigenous knowledge into science textbooks. Translating cultural content and melding two educational philosophies that often seem to be at odds: that is absolutely mind bending.
What fortune-cookie-sized advice would you give other editors?
Work your niche and take skill courses; especially if you haven’t.
What are some non-editing or peripheral activities that you find helpful to your work?
Parenting. Because dealing with authors, and especially novice writers, is a lot like raising a recalcitrant toddler. I am a much better editor because of the loving practice my son gives me.
Coding HTML is a very handy thing to understand as well — for all the web-based products, as well as many ebooks, and even for Word.
Describe the Hollywood adaptation of your story (who plays Adrienne, etc.).
Liza Minnelli would play me. I would have picked Cheryl Tiegs, who is my spitting image, but I just caught Liza playing a cougar with vertigo on Arrested Development — that pretty much keeled me over with laughter and fictionalizes me enough to be entertaining. So Liza’s in, Cheryl’s out. Sting and I would spend months holed up in his castle to write the score, and the big number would be me in my fire-fighting gear, crawling through a burning building or rappelling down an embankment, because that’s been my biggest adventure by far.
I’d buy a ticket to see that! Thanks, Adrienne!