Red Pencil 6: A Day of Learning, Networking, and CMOS 17

I recently had the pleasure of attending my first professional editing conference, Red Pencil 6: Tracking Changes in Editing. This biennial conference is put on by the Northwest Independent Editors Guild and, according to the organization’s website, welcomes more than two hundred editors from the Pacific Northwest and beyond for a day of learning, networking, and camaraderie. This year’s conference took place on September 23 at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington. I was thrilled to be able to attend the event with seven other Ooligan editors.

Before entering Ooligan Press, I hadn’t met many editors in person, and I’d never seen any gather in a large group. This profession doesn’t allow for much peer-to-peer interaction; it generally requires hours of solitary work, much of which is done remotely. Red Pencil provided me the opportunity to meet and learn from other professional editors—most of whom have been in the industry for years and have a wealth of experience and insight to offer. The events I attended included a keynote address from Karen Yin of Conscious Style Guide and educational sessions such as Editing Graphic Novels as a Medium, Publishing Project Management, and Copyediting Fiction for Traditional Publishers.

The culminating event (and one of the reasons I was driven to attend Red Pencil in the first place) was a session led by Carol Fisher Saller, author of The Subversive Copy Editor and editor of the Chicago Manual of Style Online‘s Q&A. Saller spoke at length about the updates made to the seventeenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), which was published only weeks before the conference was held. We base most of our style choices off of CMOS at Ooligan Press. It’s a giant (and sometimes intimidating) style guide, so it was helpful to have some of the changes and improvements in this edition pointed out by an expert. I was, for example, happy to learn that no chapter numbers had changed from the sixteenth edition and that many “fuzzy” sections had been clarified and included more examples. Here are a some more specific updates to CMOS 17 that Saller mentioned:

  • CMOS 5.48 and 5.256: Guidance surrounding the use of “they” has relaxed to reflect the rising use of this word as a singular pronoun. While CMOS still doesn’t fully recommend the use of singular “they” in formal writing (and provides a few other ways to achieve bias-free language), it recognizes the word’s evolving role as a generic pronoun when referring to a person of unspecified gender. The guide also mentions that “they” and its forms are often preferred when referring to a specific, known person who does not identify with a gender-specific pronoun.
  • CMOS 7.80 and 7.89: The recommended treatment for many technological terms has been updated. For example, “email” is no longer hyphenated and “internet” is lowercased.
  • CMOS 14.34: The use of the abbreviation ibid. is now discouraged in favor of shortened citations. According to the guide, “Shortened citations generally take up less than a line, meaning that ibid. saves no space, and in electronic formats that link to one note at a time, ibid. risks confusing the reader.”

I could go on at length about the changes in CMOS 17 (and also include the many pages of notes I took from other sessions), but the takeaway here is this: if you are pursuing a career as a professional editor, conferences like Red Pencil are an incredible educational experience. In my case, managing the editorial department at Ooligan can often be a daunting task, but beginning this academic term fresh from Red Pencil has provided me with valuable industry knowledge as well as a renewed focus and drive to ensure the editorial process at our press is a success.

Write Around Oregon: A Quick Overview of Writing Conferences within the State

When thinking about a writing career, the first words that come to mind are usually not “conferences” or “networking.” While it’s a romantic notion to imagine authors holed up in cabins producing great works of literature all on their own, the truth is that the writing community is vibrant, collaborative, and surprisingly social. Writing conferences in particular have become an indispensable resource for anyone looking to stay connected to what’s current in the industry. Literary culture is constantly evolving, and conferences and other large-scale gatherings offer writers, publishing professionals, and other producers a chance to connect and learn from each other. Listed below are some of the great writing conferences around the state that Oregon authors should be sure to check out.

  • Oregon Writers Colony Annual Conference: For writers looking for something different from the usual large-scale conference atmosphere, the Oregon Writers Colony Annual Conference is a perfect fit. The Oregon Writers Colony is a community of writers that provides workshops, advice, companionship, and access to a writing retreat on the Oregon Coast. The annual conference is held in spring every year. This year, the 2017 conference took place on May 5–7 at the author-centered Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. Check out their website for more information.
  • South Coast Writers Conference: Located in Gold Beach on Oregon’s southwestern coast, the South Coast Writers Conference celebrated its twenty-second anniversary in February of 2017. It is described as an “eclectic” gathering of writers of all genres and experience levels. The conference is cosponsored by Southwestern Oregon Community College and the Gold Beach Visitor Center. Organizers work to schedule this two-day conference each year during Presidents’ Day weekend, but keep an eye on the Southwestern Oregon Community College website for updates about next year’s event.
  • Terroir Creative Writing Festival: Sponsored by the Arts Alliance of Yamhill County, Terroir Creative Writing Festival aims to build a strong local literary presence while also making connections to the broader writing and publishing community. With writing and publishing workshops, speakers, readings, and a festival bookstore, all those interested in contemporary writing are encouraged to attend. The 2017 festival took place on April 22 at the Yamhill County Campus of Chemeketa Community College; information about the 2018 event will be updated on the Terroir website once available.
  • Willamette Writers Conference: Because Willamette Writers is the largest writers organization in the Pacific Northwest, it’s no surprise that this annual conference gathers writers of all kinds—including fiction, nonfiction, memoir, stage, screen, and web—for a three-day conference in Northeast Portland. Whether a writer is new to the scene or a seasoned veteran, the event offers programming varied enough to appeal to the different stages of a writing career. The Willamette Writers website outlines the schedule in detail, but writers can expect to meet with teachers, speakers, authors, agents, editors, and producers that can advise them on their work and the writing process as a whole. The 2017 Willamette Writers Conference will be held from August 4–6 at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel in Northeast Portland.
  • Wordstock: More than just a conference, Wordstock: Portland’s Book Festival is a celebration of books, authors, and bibliophiles in general. The festival is hosted by Literary Arts, an invaluable hub for the literary community in the Pacific Northwest. According to the Literary Arts website, last year’s festival featured more than one hundred authors presenting at various onstage events, pop-up readings, and workshops. With food, drink, live music, a large bookfair, and so many events, Wordstock is proof that literary culture is not only alive in Oregon but flourishing. The 2017 Wordstock festival is slated to take place on November 11 in and around the Portland Art Museum in downtown Portland.
  • Write to Publish: Hosted by Ooligan Press—the student-run, nonprofit press affiliated with Portland State University’s publishing program—Write to Publish is centered around “demystifying” the publishing industry for emerging professionals looking to get their work out in the world. Though the event touches on the craft of writing and hosts various workshops and panels, the spotlight is on helping new publishing professionals, writers, and other artists learn to successfully navigate the publishing industry. The 2018 conference marks the tenth annual installment of Write to Publish, so attendees can be sure to expect big things from next year’s event. Write to Publish 2018 is projected to take place next spring in downtown Portland, but be sure to keep checking its website for updates.

As evidenced by the number of large writing events held around the state, Oregon’s literary culture truly thrives in a social setting. Beyond conferences, authors can connect with other writing professionals on a smaller scale through opportunities such as workshops, residencies, and writing groups. Even the most solitary of writers can benefit through collaboration, and the Oregonian writing community is here to help.

Did we omit an important Oregon writing conference from this list? Email the details to!

Tracking Time for Freelancers

As students of publishing, everyone who works at Ooligan is very busy. There are papers to write, portfolios to put together, sales kits to assemble, ebooks to craft, as well as the day-to-day operations of a trade publisher. On top of all that, many of us also have day jobs, which means our days are both full and fragmented. It isn’t surprising, then, that many Ooligan alumni go on to work as freelance editors or designers: the course prepares you to work independently doing any- and everything. Given that freelancing is the new norm, this focus on flexibility is probably a good thing. As future publishing professionals, whether working nine-to-five or freelance, we need to keep in mind certain best practices, and one of these is being aware of how “busy” we actually are.

After one year in the Ooligan course, I’m already starting to think of life after graduation; freelancing is definitely on my mind. To get a head start on the best practices of working life, and also as an experiment, I installed the free service RescueTime on my computer for the first two weeks of spring term. By tracking website and software usage, RescueTime provides an hour-by-hour breakdown of time worked and whether it was “productive” or not, based on user categories. I chose RescueTime for its simplicity, pleasant interface, and lack of annoying ads, but there are many other options available. There are some limitations, though: RescueTime’s free version doesn’t allow you to input time spent away from the screen in meetings, errands, or phone calls. With that in mind, during those two weeks I logged seventy-five hours on my personal computer, fifty of which were “productive”—that is, they were spent in work-related programs or websites, such as Photoshop, InDesign, Word, and Google Docs. Although the numbers were interesting, some of the other information was more useful and changed how I looked at my time. For example:

  • A recurring project I routinely procrastinated on because I felt it took more time than it was worth only required 90 minutes a week—far less than I had thought. After finding that out in the first week, I no longer put off the task.
  • I work in two- to three-hour bursts, then I get distracted. If I try to push through and stay productive, I just end up wasting time.
  • Wednesdays are my most productive day: another reason it’s the hump day.
  • I also tend to work more in the mornings, especially between six and ten. I get another burst of energy in the early evening between six and eight, but I might as well take a siesta for all the work I get done in the afternoon.

Those were some of the insights into how I personally spend my time; your mileage may vary. Although most of us don’t need to create invoices (yet), taking stock of how we spend our time can give us a better idea of whether we have the time-management chops to make a go of freelancing—and help us develop them if we need to do so.