Collaboration and Relaxation at the Oregon and SW Washington Editors Retreat

January 2019

By Alison Cantrell

We met . . .

The arches in Rockaway Beach, OR.

The arches in Rockaway Beach, OR. (Photo credit: Alison Cantrell)

In early 2018, fellow Portland editor and Guild member Julie Swearingen and I took over planning of the happy hours for the Portland contingent of the Northwest Editors Guild, hoping to bring our local editors together and continue to provide them with a space for communication and collaboration. We’ve enjoyed the relationships and connections this experience has forged for us. When a conversation with former Guild president Pm Weizenbaum sparked the idea for an editors retreat, we were eager to help create a learning-based experience that would build upon the happy hours we’d started hosting.

So, during the last weekend of September 2018, twelve editors gathered in small Rockaway Beach, Oregon, for the first ever Oregon and SW Washington Editors Retreat.

Over six months in the making, this retreat was a chance to take part in professional development in the off year of Red Pencil while giving area editors the opportunity to relax in a beautiful local setting.

We collaborated . . .

Editors sit around a table discussing their field, with a whale painting in the background.

The group discusses location-independent editing, led by Eugene Guild member Sherri Schultz. (Photo credit: Katie Van Heest)

Highlights of the retreat were the lively discussions we held around various editing topics. Julie Swearingen kicked off our Saturday morning by leading a talk on how marketing factors into editing, reminding editors that they don’t edit in a vacuum and to stay abreast of how their authors will be marketing their books to publishers and readers alike.

In my day job, I do a lot of editing for social media, so I volunteered to lead the group in discussing what makes editing social media different from other types of copy as well as strategies and tips for editing good social content. Together, we explored how to optimize copy based on its audience and platform as well as how to ensure copy is crafted in the best way to make it visible to and searchable for social media users, including effective use of hashtags.

Eugene-area editor Sherri Schultz discussed the phenomena of editors moving from large metro areas to smaller, less expensive but still culturally vibrant towns, and taking their editing work with them and the potential benefits of a location-independent lifestyle.

We rounded out our day with a discussion period dedicated to planning future Guild events in Oregon and SW Washington. Retreaters enthusiastically suggested new formats for events, in addition to novel topics area editors would like to learn more about. We’re hoping to see some of these ideas implemented in the coming year.

We relaxed . . .

Four editors on the beach in Rockaway, OR.

A relaxing beach stroll between discussion sessions. Front row, left to right: Mary Edwards and Sherri Schultz. Back row, left to right: Alison Cantrell and Julie Swearingen. (Photo credit: Mary Edwards)

In between stimulating editing talk, we took breaks, exploring the nearby town and coastline. We were staying just a short walk from the beach, so editors took various trips down to stroll alongside the waves. Some of us also visited the local shops and brought back goodies, including locally made taffy.

The group also had time to bond over a movie night, where we chose to settle in with a lighthearted editing-related film and have a few laughs, as well as a blind date book swap activity. (There’s an entire website dedicated to this, but you can also play at home, like we did!) For this book swap, each player brings a copy (new or used) of a book they love and want to share. They then place the book in a paper bag and write three descriptive words or short phrases on the bag that would entice a reader without giving away the plot of the book. Then everyone gets a chance to read over the descriptors and choose a book. This can also be done like musical chairs, where you grab the book closest to you when the music stops, or by drawing numbers for who goes first. No matter how you play, everyone gets to go home with a new book.

For meals, we hit up some of the local favorites, such as seafood platters at Sand Dollar Restaurant and Lounge and giant pancakes at Grumpy’s Cafe, where we had our farewell brunch. Mealtimes were a wonderful opportunity to have one-on-one chats with our fellow retreaters, really experience the town, and extend the conversations we sparked during our daytime discussions. Both restaurants did a great job of accommodating a group as big as ours, and we really enjoyed patronizing their establishments.

We planned for the future . . .

As mentioned, one important discussion we held at the retreat was a brainstorming and planning session for future Oregon and SW Washington events. In the coming year, based on ideas the group cultivated at the retreat, we hope to transition to offering Portland-based workshops featuring local community members (to take place alongside our current happy hours). We hope these workshops will extend the feelings of collaboration and camaraderie fostered by this retreat and help elevate our network of local editors.

Group photo of the Oregon and SW Washington Editors

A group photo as we prepare to depart on our last day of the retreat. Front row, left to right: Alison Cantrell, Joanne Hossack, Julie Swearingen, Sherri Schultz, and Mary Edwards. Back row, left to right: Katie Van Heest, Marie Easley, J. Whitney Edmunds Swann, Cheryl Landes, and TJ Carter. Not pictured: Sherri Damlo, Sally Wolfe. (Photo credit: Katie Van Heest)

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