Since 2010, I have co-organized a monthly mixer group in Edmonton for creative women professionals. I am constantly amazed by their expertise and experience, and thought I would do Q&A’s with them to get their stories – and tips!
Erinne Sevigny is an editor out of Edmonton, AB.
This spring she’s embarking on a behind-the-scenes tour of Canadian publishing that you can follow at www.thegreatcanadianpublishingtour.com (and, while she’s still not sure about the Twitter, at @TGCPT and @erinnesevigny).
What kind of background do you have?
I enrolled in the Professional Writing program at MacEwan after I decided late that storm chasing probably wasn’t going to work out. I wasn’t passionate about writing, but I was good at it. In PROW I was prompted to join a local literary journal where I volunteered, first as secretary then as president and managing editor, for about seven years. This is where my passion for story, editing, and publishing bloomed. I learned by doing (and by making a ton of mistakes). Now, I’m looking forward to being a student again for a short period of time in Humber’s Creative Book Publishing Program.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Helping people. Whether it’s providing them with their first publishing credits, workshopping a story with them, connecting them to the right person or opportunity at the right time, publishing a story that I know will have a positive effect on its readers, I’m stoked if at the end of the day I’ve made someone feel good.
Also, a lot of the opportunities I receive involve working with youth, and I am very fortunate for this. There is nothing more inspiring, nothing that feeds the creative soul more, than interacting with young writers. They are talented. They are intelligent. They are kind. They are inspiring. Nothing fuels me more.
What’s a challenge you’ve overcome? How did you do it?
A challenge that I am attempting to overcome right now is monkey brain. This is when you have so much going on in your head that you can’t even finish a thought before being interrupted by another. If I let it get out of control, this paralyzes me. The best solution so far has been to write very detailed lists that I can tackle one task at time. It’s not: manuscript evaluation. It’s: read MS, outline eval, write eval, email eval. The important thing is to get everything down on paper, because monkey brain is a result of worrying that you’ll forget about something. Counter to this is if the list gets too long, it can be overwhelming and I’m back to being paralyzed. This is where family and friends come in.
How do you network? What works best for you?
I haven’t really had a strategy in networking. I was turned off to it by a bad experience at a conference when I was 20. A woman cut me off mid-phrase, abruptly turning around after deciding that I wasn’t going to be a useful connection to her. At another event, I stood at a table and exchanged business cards with folks who seemed to be on a timer. No matter where the conversation was heading, somewhere between 4 and 7 minutes they found a reason to excuse themselves and move to another table. The idea of “networking” has since seemed robotic and disingenuous to me. I like the word connect better, and I do that by putting myself in as many places as possible, by getting involved in any way I can in a variety of industries where my skills might be useful.
This twitter thing… those who know me know I’ve never been a fan and remain skeptical. But I’m trying and learning and it’s becoming easier with every tweet. I just really wish it had started with a lexicon that didn’t seem so ridiculous. I don’t find the ‘ee’ sound very appealing.
How do you prioritize your work and life commitments?
I find it interesting that work isn’t simply part of life when talking about commitments. For me there are just commitments and if one begins to feel like a “work” commitment, I know that something is off balance and I need to adjust it.
One of the earliest conversations I can remember is one with my father who was explaining the importance of balance between schoolwork and socializing. I am a huge advocate for balance, recognizing that it doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone.
That said, I easily fall into a mode where all I do is tackle tasks from my lists. It helps to have a dog. He’s my canary. When he starts acting up, I know I need to take a break (and take him out for a walk).