Monday, April 7, 2008

The Sugar in the Spice Cabinet

Although I'm not an employee of the company, I've been working for Annick Press for 13 years. I’m a freelancer who works from home, thanks to the wonders of computer technology. As a copy editor and proofreader, I check the text of Annick’s books for spelling and grammar and such. I work for other publishers as well, and one of the things I most appreciate about my work is the variety: I can be editing a very dense piece of adult non-fiction in the morning, and then be checking the proofs of the latest Ruth Ohi picture book in the afternoon! If variety is the spice of life, then kids’ books are the sugar in my spice cabinet.

The technology that allows me to do my work has changed considerably since 1995, the year I first copy-edited an Annick book. In 1995, my first Annick job was dropped off at my apartment by one of the Annick editors. Nowadays, the books are sent to me as attachments to emails, and I print them out myself. In 1995, though, I didn’t have a printer. In fact, I didn’t have an email account. Heck, in 1995, I didn’t have a computer! I don’t think I was using a quill pen and toiling away by candlelight in those days, but I can’t be sure …

Despite these technological advances, I still think it’s important to maintain personal contact. For that reason, at least once a year, I make the trip to Toronto and catch the subway to the most northerly station on the Yonge line in order to visit the folks at Annick. For some reason that is an ongoing mystery, I usually seem to make that particular trip in mid-winter. As I trudge through the snow with the northerly wind whipping down Yonge Street and making my cheekbones ache, the passing cars splashing me with slush, I do have fleeting moments when I have to ask myself: is it REALLY all that important to maintain personal contact? I mean, wouldn’t a phone call have been sufficient? Maybe a greeting card?! But once I’m seated at the table in the Annick kitchen, with a cup of tea and some homemade goodies in front of me (they ALWAYS have goodies in the kitchen at Annick), such thoughts have vanished—until, that is, I have to set off again through the frigid wastes of North York on my return trip to the subway.

Just for a change of pace, I think I’ll try to visit Annick soon, before the snow starts flying again.

John Sweet
Freelance copy editor and proofreader

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