It started with a story of Paris. Sat on reception, I yearned to share desks with the writers, editors and designers in the office. Curious to know whether I have what it takes to be a writer, Geoff Slattery – CEO of Australian publishing company The Slattery Media Group – challenged me to write 600 words on the magic of Paris by the following morning. I had fallen in love with the French capital that summer – 2006 – so considered the challenge a straightforward one. After a night of writing, scribbling, typing, proof-reading and checking the acute accents on French words such as métro, Sacré-Coeur and gâteau à la crème, I sent my piece to Slattery and sat anxiously at my desk clicking the send/receive button like I was having the biggest sugar rush of my life. It was a rush, but no sugar was involved.
The exhilaration I felt writing the piece and the satisfaction that came over me once it was finished to a standard of which I was proud, confirmed that this was the right direction for me. Those are the feelings one should experience in his/her career. Don’t we all strive to find a vocation that incites fear, excitement, pride and a sense of achievement? It keeps us engaged, interested and constantly developing.
I passed Slattery’s test and immediately joined the company’s editorial team, writing and editing stories for a range of publications such as the official programme of Australian Rules (the country’s favourite football code), a children’s magazine and Australia’s highest circulating music magazine. My eagerness to learn was immense and the improvement in my writing and sub-editing skills clearly visible.
What followed this position was a two-year stint as MAG’s deputy editor, a role that involved interviewing bands and writing feature stories, planning and writing the magazine’s newly introduced travel and fashion pages, editing contributors’ reviews, sub-editing the entire magazine, and sifting through the pile of CDs that cluttered our desks for the musical gems deserving of a feature.
Emerging from that job I had learned the intricacies of planning and creating a magazine; knew who The Triffids, The Black Seeds, Beirut and The XX were; had discovered my level of attention for perfecting grammar, punctuation, caption alignment and image relevance in a 120-page magazine; and found that I could actually present to camera effectively (while making a fair bloopers reel along the way).
I knew then that I loved to write, but that I had also become an accomplished editor and would be happy reading and editing other people’s words for the rest of my life. Taking a great article and making it even better – in terms of readability, comprehension, economy of words and accuracy – is a fabulous feeling. And finding a rogue comma, inappropriate apostrophe or double space moments before a page leaves for the printer, is just reward for reading that page four, five, six times over.
This is a career that offers rewards only those with a similar interest in publishing could ever understand. And if someone outside the publishing industry were to read the previous paragraph, I’m sure they’d think I needed more in my life.
Well, maybe, but you only need to check my bank statements to see what more looks like, and what it costs. My hunger to learn new skills and find a creative outlet has sent me headfirst into a fashion design correspondence course, textile screenprinting short course, photography and Photoshop lessons and cooking classes. All of which – although they might cause injury to my purse, I believe add further to my flexibility in a creative environment and suggest a well-rounded set of interests and skills.
Five years after I joined The Slattery Media Group, I walked away having written countless feature articles, interview pieces and reviews; introduced successful fashion and travel sections into a previously entirely music-based magazine; developed and edited a technology supplement; commissioned book authors; project-managed custom publications such as a food magazine for Melbourne’s food market; as well as having edited two books – the first a guidebook to Melbourne’s finest artisans and the second a compilation of recipes and stories from the world’s food bloggers.
My experience was so full and varied and I had been encouraged/challenged/inspired to try and become the best writer and editor I could be; so now I seek the next opportunity to further my development.
Freelance writing and editing has kept me sane for the past year, but I crave the day-to-day interaction with words, grammar debates and even that challenging trouble child, the apostrophe. I want to be surrounded by a team of people who appreciate the publishing process, who happily involve themselves in a discussion about the difference between among and amongst, and whose eyes light up when they see the printed product of their hard work land on their desks.
I am the right choice for your company. I will work hard and apply all I have gained in my six years’ publishing experience to my job. I will even bake for you.
If you have a role in your editorial team that needs filling, I can fill it.