On 11 June, Pauline and I were sitting in a coffee shop in Dublin Airport when I spotted Liz, and she came over to join us. With time to kill before our flight to Toronto for the Editing Goes Global conference, the three of us drank coffee and chatted about what the weekend might bring.
There followed the longest flight that Pauline and I had ever experienced, then a short trip on the brand-new Union Pearson train to central Toronto. Tired, we had more trouble finding the hotel – the Intercontinental on Front Street – than we should have done. After a short time to freshen up, we made our way, with the help of Dawn’s map, to Il Fornello on King Street, where around 35 people – nearly all editors – were already dining. Many of them I recognized immediately from Facebook (Greg, Gael, Roberto, Joanna, Marie-Christine, Sara, Suzanne, Arlene, Dawn … and lots more); as the evening went on there were numerous hugs and short, happy conversations.
Twenty or so of us then went to the Strathcona Hotel, where I stood at the bar and spoke mostly to Dawn, Kara and Ted; we walked back to the hotel having wisely not drunk too much: it was very late by Irish time, and I had a busy day lined up, as had Liz.
I slept for a couple of hours; after I woke around 2 a.m. I could not get back to sleep, much to my frustration. So I was quite tired all day. I registered in the Metro Convention Centre – effectively part of the hotel – and got a bag containing conference stuff, then had coffee and a muffin and went to my first session: ‘An Editor Stumbles into Television’ by Duncan McKenzie (at any given time there was a choice of between four and six sessions on various themes). This was excellent, and I got talking to a couple of people during it, thanks to some fun exercises devised by Duncan. I spoke to him afterwards – I know him from Facebook.
Next up was a very good ‘Introduction to Networking: It’s Not as Scary as You Think’ session from Suzanne Purkis and Sue Archer; then came a ‘meeting of the tribes’ at which editors in various fields could gather and discuss their issues. I, Stacey and some others formed a kind of non-tribe for the hour or so.
I had lunch in the food hall across the street with Janet, Katharine, Annie and other colleagues. Then it was time for the ‘Using Social Media: Making Connections, Building Communities’ session, introduced by Robin and presented by Stacey, Gael, Katharine and myself. Each of us spoke for around 10 minutes, and there were questions and answers. It was very well received.
My final session of the day was Iva Cheung’s brilliant ‘Editor as Advocate: Plain Language and Social Justice’. Then I met up with Pauline – she had spent the day walking around Chinatown and other places and taking photos (she took some great ones: her Toronto pics were very well received on Facebook later). We got ready for the reception, after which we went with colleagues to Jack Astor’s, where we had a salad and spoke mainly with Liz, Arlene and Kara.
I had another bad night’s sleep, again waking up after a couple of hours and remaining awake. So, I was very tired, but the novelty and excitement of the situation were enough to override that. I had breakfast in the conference centre with some editors, and started the business of the day by attending the Opening Keynote address, delivered by the very clever and funny Carol Fisher Saller.
Next up, after some fresh air on the streets of Toronto, was Sarah Grey’s ‘Inclusive Editing: Beyond Political Correctness’ – another brilliant presentation. I know Sarah from Facebook and met her a couple of times over the weekend.
The ‘Editing at the Edge’ session, on working in remote locations, started at 11.15. It was introduced by Rosemary and presented by Julia, Leonie, Amy and me. Again it seemed to go well, although the attendance was smaller than at yesterday’s and there was less feedback. My participation as a presenter was over then, and I was able to concentrate on talking to colleagues and attending further sessions.
After lunch – supplied in the conference centre – I went to ‘Hiring Other Freelancers: Expanding Your Business with colleagues’, by Janet MacMillan, Laura Poole and Carol Fisher Saller. The EAC AGM followed, so I had time off until the banquet at 7.00. I chatted to some people, had a walk and chilled out with Pauline in our room. At 6.30 we went to Gael and Christine’s room, where a crowd of people were having pre-banquet drinks – Ben Stiller was in the lift with us on the way down.
The banquet was enjoyable – very relaxed, with a wide-ranging buffet and some presentations and funny speeches. James Harbeck’s ‘Oops Awards’ routine was entertaining, to say the least. Afterwards we had a couple of drinks in the hotel bar with Joanne, Dawn, Debra, Patricia and others. When it closed, Pauline, Liz, Dawn, Suzanne, Carole and I walked down the street to Fionn McCool’s, which proved to be closed too, to our chagrin at the time (but relief the next morning, on my part at least).
Sunday was the final day of the conference. I slept a bit better, though still not great, and had breakfast in the conference centre again. I started the day’s business with ‘From Little Things, Big Things Grow: An Australian Perspective on the Editing Profession’ by Rosemary Noble, then went to ‘How to Be a Happy Writer’, by Ann Douglas. At this point I was mentally tired and sat out the next set of sessions. Lunch was in the conference centre again; I ate with Sara.
At 1.30 I went to ‘English: The Good, the Bad and the Awkward’, an entertaining session moderated by Julia Cochrane and featuring Katherine Barber, James Harbeck, John McIntyre and Peter Sokolowski. I then had coffee and a chat with Michelle, and went to Katherine Barber’s closing keynote, in which she spoke very wittily and entertainingly about the peculiarities of Canadian English (at one point quoting a Facebook exchange between Gael and me).
The show was now over. Pauline had been to the Art Gallery of Ontario and had bought four lovely prints by First Nations artists; she and I went to the Elephant & Castle to eat and drink with a group of editors, including at some time Gael, Greg, Dick, Ness, Suzanne, Michelle, Liz, David, two Joannas, Abby, Patricia, Christine … I even tried some poutine (not a huge fan). Gael was quite upset to be saying goodbye to Pauline and me. We walked back to the hotel; Pauline remembered the chocolate she had brought from Ireland and took it to Gael and Christine’s room, where Patricia, Joanna, Ness and Marie-Christine were also hanging out.
The weekend was a battle between tiredness and elation. Elation won.
On Monday morning we bumped into Liz in the lift and went to the Coco Bistro for breakfast, where we ran into Suzanne, Carole, Lea and a woman whose name I never caught. Everyone had the breakfast croissant and we sat and chatted for quite a while. Then we said goodbye to Suzanne and Carole (not for the first time), and Liz, Lea, Pauline and I walked around central Toronto and down to Lake Ontario. The day was warm and humid; we had a free sample in the Steam Whistle brewery and lunch in the food hall on Front Street, then headed back to the hotel, where we said goodbye to Liz.
Lea, Pauline and I got the UP train to Pearson; Pauline and I said goodbye to Lea, and then there were just two. The journey home took less time than the journey out; Pauline drove from Dublin and we reached our house at 7.a.m. All was as we had left it, except for the dead bat in the kitchen.
I couldn’t possibly list all the editors (and editors’ partners) that I enjoyed speaking to over the weekend. If I tried to I would leave people out. There were so many introductions to new and old (online) friends, so many brief conversations in corridors and conference rooms, especially the large room where we ate, drank and had meetings. In the Social Media session on the Friday I said that ‘Editors are lovely, friendly people, and that alone is reason enough to do more networking with them.’ I am more convinced of this than ever now.
It was a magical time – for everyone that attended, I think. I hope that many of us will meet again in Chicago, 2019.
One person that will not be there, sadly, is John Eerkes-Medrano, a distinguished editor and a very nice man, to whom I spoke several times at the conference: I knew him through Facebook. He was extremely kind and welcoming to me. John died suddenly on 15 June. May he rest in peace.