I’ve had the great pleasure recently of holding in my hands several books that I edited, proofread, or otherwise agonized over in one form or another. Although most of the books I work on are destined for publication, the sad fact of freelancing is that you often don’t get to see the finished product.
But in the past few months, I’ve gotten to see and touch and hold a few very different books that I was seeing for the first time despite having read them each more than once.
It was particularly special to see a printed copy of Charlene Challenger’s The Voices in Between. I had been working with Charlene for over a year when the book was printed and delivered, and had read it at least eight times while working on the substantive edit. Eight times is a lot of times, but there was something pretty magical and indescribable about opening the book and seeing on paper the words I had read so many times and spent so long considering alternatives for. The Voices in Between is the story of a teenage (queer! non-white! lower-class!) girl who finds her life thrown upside down when she lands in the In Between, a mysterious alternate universe where mistreated children find solace (or do they???).
At The Word on the Street festival this past Sunday, I saw IRL the finished version of A Line in the Tar Sands: Struggles for Environmental Justice, a massive and massively important book about Canada’s tar sands industry and what is being done to stop it. I copyedited and proofread the book, and it was interesting to read essays from Indigenous and other activists working against Big Oil, and then to open my newspaper the next morning and read about that same work. The fight against climate change is overwhelming and scary, but working on books like this feels in some small way like contributing.
Finally, the Inhabit Media office basically shut down for several hours this afternoon as we all admired Sweetest Kulu, which I proofread and which has been highly anticipated because it’s a beautiful bedtime poem with a really lovely message, and besides all that, OH MY GOD HAVE YOU SEEN THAT BABY, no, seriously, the cute is out of control. In this book, the titular Kulu (an Inuktitut term of endearment for babies) receives gifts from the animals of the Arctic tundra and seas, including the muskox, polar bear, and narwhal. And sorry to sound #basic, but the baby. Look at that baby! I can’t even.
I think all these books are not only very good and worth reading in terms of their literary quality, but also very important and necessary. Contributing even slightly to bringing these stories and messages to an audience feels like a job well done.
All three books are now available in the usual spaces, and don’t forget to check your local bookstores!