Students trickled into the Cleghorn room in McGreer Hall early in the morning of Nov. 7 for the Student Writing Event in the Eastern Townships (SWEET) event co-hosted by PROs. SWEET was founded and directed by Dr. Linda Morra as a means to encourage discussion about how and where to publish, how to get involved in the book trade, and how to work within a community of writers.
With a focus on the publishing industry, the established panellists offered different perspectives from both sides of the trade. Sarah Lolley and Elise Moser offered a writer’s perspectives with tips on how to handle pitches and grants, whereas Melanie Tutino offered insight into starting out in entry-level publishing careers, and Lori Schubert acted as a speaker for the Quebec Writers Foundation (QWF).
Sarah Lolley told the story of how she became a published writer. Persistence and passion is what drove her to the several writing outlets that she has today. When searching for an appropriate career path, Lolley’s advice was to “start with what you love, then what you are good at” – which is sound advice for any student.
Elise Moser spoke of the several publications that welcome freelance writings, and of the smaller publishing houses that are eager to take on projects.
Lori Schubert explained how a membership to the QWF opens several doors to further publishing opportunities.
Melanie Tutino currently works as an editorial assistant for Doubleday Canada. Tutino discussed how taking on an internship, even an unpaid one, can offer invaluable connections and the opportunity to learn valuable skills.
The SWEET panel offered undeniable insight to any aspiring writers, editors, or publishers.
Following a delicious lunch provided by the event, the PROs panel was also helpful for writers looking for guidance. The speakers offered insight into whether or not Journalism school was the correct path for graduating students.
Fraser Lockerbie, an established journalist and Bishop’s University alumnus, acted as the moderator for the afternoon. Lockerbie posed questions to each panellist about their experiences with Journalism school, or lack thereof, and had the panel discuss how their education influenced their course of action in pursuing their careers.
Jesse Feith completed a Journalism diploma program at Concordia after graduating from Bishop’s; he now writes for the Montreal Gazette. His advice to young writers was to not be afraid to show your passion; advice that can be applied to any future career.
Ronan O’Beirne, another esteemed panellist and Bishop’s alumnus, completed a Master’s degree in Journalism at Ryerson. He spoke on how the practical aspect of the program was useful, but that he wanted more. Master’s degree programs are usually directed towards the more academic side of journalism, focusing on mechanics and ethics. O’Beirne believes that choosing this direction of academia was integral to the understanding of his job.
The final panellist was Caroline Royer, a journalist who began her own online periodical without attending any form of postsecondary Journalism school. Royer’s best advice was to learn every aspect of the job so that nothing surprises you.
The advice that the panellists offered to audience members was applicable to every aspect of journalism, publishing, or writing, and proved that success comes in all forms.
This article was written by Hayley Winch and originally appeared under the title “How SWEET it is!” in the issue of The Campus published on November 11th, 2015.