i. I work as a writer, editor, publishing consultant, and creative writing teacher.
ii. I do this creative work because: I have always felt a pull toward the publishing industry. I also believe strongly in finding new ways to help writers build community and sustain long-term careers in the arts.
iii. Personal qualities that help me in my work are: I am really at great at staying calm during periods of high stress. I am also a really good listener. I don’t just hear, I tune in, I focus, I absorb.
iv. The greatest challenges around doing this work are: There are so many barriers in the publishing industry, and there’s a massive lack of transparency about processes and paths to advancement. But without challenge, there is no growth, so I am working on attacking this from various angles through my author care consultancy, Breathing Space Creative.
v. Creative childhood hobbies: I used to craft little homemade books from scraps of paper.
vi. Other creators who inspire you: There are so many! But to name a few authors who are currently inspiring me: Jen Sookfong Lee, Dina Del Buccia, Hope Lauterbach, Nailah King, Amber Dawn, and Ivan Coyote.
vii. Training that has helped me in this career: Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio was a catalyst for a lot of the writing and publishing work that I do now, but I think it’s important to recognize that learning via in-the-field experience is just as valid as formal training. I am a big believer in creating my own hybrid learning path and it hasn’t failed me yet.
viii. A common trap that can hurt people in this career: What scares me about newer writers entering into the industry, is that they often come in in with unrealistic expectations and no real clear picture of what is expected of them, and how much they actually have to take on themselves. There’s a high burnout rate and this is something that I try to address through my consultancy.
ix. Some proud career moments: Winning the 2018 Vancouver Book Award for my memoir, Dear Current Occupant, and being named a Writer’s Trust Rising Star by author David Chariandy.
x. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you: Figure out what your non-negotiables are. What is important to you? What are you unwilling to budge on? I also recommend learning as much as you can about what the current state of the industry is. Find a mentor! Hold them close.
xi. A professional goal I have for the future: I honestly would love to work as a senior or acquisitions editor. One day! : )
Header Photo: Delaney Turner
Chelene Knight Photo: Katherine Holland