by Teresa Barbaro

Let me tell you, taking part in workshops organized by EWWA is an experience that leaves its mark. My own experience was the workshop organized in Milan, Saturday 13 September 2014: “Editing from A to Z”.

Collage Editing2

In the attractive Hotel Verdi, in a private room on the ground floor, Isabella Maet Fracon, editor, blogger and writer, knowledgeably led the first part of the morning, then Alessandra Selmi, editor and author of “So You Want to Work in Editing. The tribulations of a young editor”, continued the session until lunchtime. There were about thirty of us listening to the two experts, who were introduced by Alessandra Bazardi, Vice-President of EWWA, and Viviana Giorgi Georgette, one of the founding members of the association. A special guest, Syusy Blady, also became an honorary member of EWWA during the morning session.

Isabella Fracon led the writers (and aspiring writers) on a journey into the editing world, touching upon several topics, for example the best way to introduce ourselves to a publisher including the mistakes to avoid,  an editor’s typical day,  the role he/she plays  in an Italian publishing house, and some of the choices editors make dictated by marketing. To illustrate, she used stories from her personal experience.

She highlighted the importance for every writer to humbly comprehend that editing is necessary, and that talent requires discipline and unending daily practice. Technical issues were also discussed such as the “twelve basic steps” a novel needs to have to maintain its basic structure, what the author needs to know about his/her characters, and the three different narrative voices.

Isabella painted an evocative image of the editor and author. The author is immersed in his/her story as if in a swamp, surrounded by foliage and unable to see the bottom; the editor moves about from above and is able to clearly distinguish  what lies beneath the surface, analyzing it from every angle, identifying what is necessary to remove, add or change in order to make the story its very best. She reminded us that while the reader takes pleasure in imagining, it does not mean a writer can leave holes in the story.

Then Alessandra Selmi spoke with humor and sparkling wit about the birth of her book, and her courageous professional breakthrough in recent years. She also autographed copies of her book, which was a special treat!

For lunch, EWWA members occupied a long table in the sunny square at RED Feltrinelli. Some of us found old friends again and others made new ones. There were members from the area of Milan, and others who arrived from Rome, Trento, Rovigo and Florence.

The afternoon session was equally engaging and the “pen” was the protagonist, in a most practical sense.  Isabella Maet Fracon had us divide up first in pairs, then in groups, to do writing exercises. Each participant offered a contribution, working as good artisans and collaborating from beginning to end to obtain a mini-product for the assigned task. Each group shared what they wrote and Isabella made comments.

At the end of the workshop, we all got up from our chairs with a desire to write – some to begin, and others to continue – but all with an awareness of what a precious craft writing really is.

What more is there to say? All I can do is wait for the next EWWA event!