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Trish Morgan

Lifelong Learning for Mentors and Mentees

Editors Canada launched the John Eerkes-Medrano Mentorship Program in the spring of 2017. For information about how you can become a mentor or a mentee, click here.

Copyright: garagestock / 123RF Stock Photo

Let’s begin with three playful suppositions. First, the best kinds of editing involve learning. Second, the best editors have learned from mentors. Third, the best mentors keep on learning. These three suppositions I hold to be true.

The incomparably brilliant — and unfailingly generous — Rosemary Shipton, editor par excellence and founding academic coordinator of the Publishing Program at Ryerson University in Toronto, remains my most important publishing mentor. I cannot begin to describe how thrilling it was for me to learn from her how to work with words and with writers. And I’ve been fortunate to have several other strong, excellent women and men as mentors.

When I first learned about Editors Canada’s mentorship program, I knew it would be a meaningful volunteering opportunity, and one that would play nicely with my other commitments. I had previously mentored interns and junior colleagues, both in-house and informally as a freelancer, as well as helped those who occasionally contacted me through the Online Directory of Editors. But I wanted to do more. One final reason I knew this mentorship program was for me was my memory of the dearly missed John Eerkes-Medrano, who mentored so many with such gentle warmth, grace, humour and sharp editing acumen. I only met him in person once, but — until his sad, untimely death — his was an important and favourite voice on the Editors Canada listserv.

My mentorship with my superb mentee, Sarah Jefferies, could not have gone better. We began with an informal two-hour café meet-and-greet to get to know one another, during which I did my best to let her know my strengths and weaknesses. Sarah knew she was under no obligation to continue our two-month mentorship, but continue we did. One of the best things about the mentorship program is that it is mentee-directed. We began with a framework of topics that Sarah developed, covering four broad objectives: developing a freelance editing business, exploring next steps (education, networking, credentials), working through the resources on the Editors Canada website and examining self-care strategies for maintaining good mental health when working remotely. In near-weekly phone calls, usually lasting about an hour, we dived into the details of these topics. Unfailingly, Sarah sent a pre-meeting outline of questions and objectives, and she and I shared more notes following them, too.

Mentors learn every single time a mentee asks, “Why?” and “How?” When I couldn’t answer a question, I did my best to learn the answer. Every good editor I know is curious, and to me, editing and mentoring (of both promising new editors, like Sarah, and of our authors) go hand in hand.

The excellent Building Bridges conference in Saskatoon in May was the first I had managed to attend since 2008. Unfortunately, even lifelong learners sometimes get sidetracked by the commitments of work and life! I made it, though, and savoured every moment. (Choosing among all the tempting concurrent sessions was tortuous.) While there, I also spoke to many about my mentorship experience — how valuable Sarah found it and how enjoyable it was for me. If, as educator Charles Eliot surmised in 1910, “books are the quietest and most constant of friends . . . and the most patient of teachers,” then mentorships — equal parts mentee and mentor — must surely come in a close second.

Share your experience as a mentor or mentee below!

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The Editors’ Weekly is the official blog of Editors Canada. Contact us.


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6 Comments on “Lifelong Learning for Mentors and Mentees”

  • Anita Jenkins

    says:

    Thank you so much, Trish, for this superbly written ode to mentoring. It means a lot to me, as I believe so strongly in this method of learning and self-development. I like to say that every successful person has been mentored, whether they know it or not.

    • Trish Morgan

      says:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Anita! I could also have mentioned many other excellent mentors I’ve had the pleasure of learning from; I’ve been fortunate, indeed.

    • Rosemary Shipton

      says:

      Good point, Anita! You, Trish, and the other committee members have done a great service in shaping up Editor Canada’s mentorship program. Mentoring is one of the best ways to learn: it complements formal educational programs and works well for professional development. I suspect that most people like to share their professional knowledge and experience, so it’s unfortunate that the modern workplace generally doesn’t encourage in-house mentoring. It could be a win-win situation for both parties. Thanks for your Ryerson memories, Trish – yes, I loved every minute in the classroom and, in the process, I honed my own skills too.

      • Trish Morgan

        says:

        I think of you often, Rosemary. You have mentored so many!

  • I am very fortunate to have been mentored by Beverly Ensom, who was generous with her advice and thoughtful in her responses to my questions.

    I love this statement: «Every good editor I know is curious.» That is so true, and Bev and I both mulled over points of discussion and asked other people and had follow-up thoughts, so that what began in my head as a straightforward question became an ongoing topic of fruitful discussion.

    We are so lucky to have a program like this! Many thanks to Bev and to the hardworking volunteers who make these relationships happen!

    • Trish Morgan

      says:

      So glad to hear about your fulfilling mentorship experience with Beverly, Claire! The meeting of minds that this program enables is really something special.

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