May 2019 Q&A: Eddie Caruso

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One of our members, Edward Caruso, has recently had his second book of poems published (Blue Milonga, Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne). The poems were written in Argentina and Chile, so Blue Milonga is heavily influenced by Latin American themes. During the writing of this book, Edward knew that his work would eventually come under the microscope of a fellow editor. The experience turned out to be positive, so we will follow this up with Edward in our Q&A.

Edward Caruso AE is an editor, proofreader, indexer and poet. He specialises in commerce and educational texts from secondary to tertiary levels. He has run his own freelance business since 1996. In January this year his second book of poems, Blue Milonga, was published by Hybrid Publishers.

How has your month been?

I have just finished a proofreading job for an academic publisher and have several other jobs lined up over the next six weeks. It’s almost time to renew my accreditation, so I’m readying my notes.

I do have one editing project from a self-publisher that was due in late November 2018, but has yet to surface. It does make it harder to plan ahead or to take on work. I have worked with a number of self-publishers over the years, with the odd café Q&A session. Many writers who go the self-publishing way are on a learning curve (some may be formulating that one and only book they feel they have in them), so it’s common to work with ‘writers’ who are learning to feel more at ease with the writing process. However, it pays to have other work coming in – freelancing is a balancing act.

Also, Blue Milonga was published in late January. Since the launch in late February the book has taken on a life of its own. The launch saw close to 70 people attend, which was a very pleasing result. I have been in touch with quite a few people since – those who couldn’t make it and those who I have thanked for supporting me. There is a lot of promotional work involved to set up readings and to establish a presence in the poetry/literary scene and beyond. It’s a great way to do my own marketing, and it parallels some of the ways I generate freelance work.

How did you get to be both an editor and a poet?

Back in 1991, I’d enrolled in the Associate Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing/Editing at RMIT. The aim was to hone my poetry and novel writing skills. I’d also put my name down for Editing. I enjoyed the classes so much that I made a career out of it. A commerce degree during my university days has helped me to find work in areas of editing such as economics and accounting. I had worked at RMIT prior to the course, so I got my start there as an editor, in what was the Communication Services Unit. Work experience, which was part of the course, led to my first paid work as an editor.

Poetry had been there for some years prior to the course, from reading to contemplating it, writing and hanging out with various writing groups. However, only since 2010 have I given it serious attention, and the results are starting to bear fruition.

What sort of editing do you do, and to what extent (if any) does your poetry influence your editing?

The types of editing I do and the poetry I write or read are often worlds apart. But that’s not the crux of the matter. Editing skills are extremely useful in the poetry groups that I’m in, or in the redrafting of my own work. (Always best to switch off the editing side of the brain during a first draft!) The writing process can take years, so editing other people’s work can be a welcome break from my own work.

As a freelancer, I have worked on quite a few textbooks. In my spare time I do read quite a few academic tomes, so I enjoy editing a wide range of academic texts from commerce, politics and humanities, to literary criticism.

I like to read my own work aloud, so I find it very easy to read the texts that I am editing aloud as well! It’s a rhythm thing!

What are the biggest challenges you face in your editing work, and how do you tackle them?

The moments of too much/too little work. Things can very quickly swing around and spin out of control. Keeping an eye on schedules helps, but it’s important to eat well, to get plenty of Vitamin D, and to have a good night’s sleep. Difficult moments such as having a parent in aged care can take their toll. So many people I know are going through the same. We support each another.

What do you love most about editing?

I love being in touch with language. The texts I have worked on allow me to broaden my own general knowledge, and it is an honour to help people to publish their work. I am often surrounded by books – wherever I am, I gravitate towards libraries and bookstores, and to environments where books are produced.

Language is also central to Blue Milonga. It was written in Argentina and Chile, and in the process, I became fluent in Spanish.

Being edited was also a positive experience. I had been rewriting for a number of years, so it was good to have another editor go through my work to see if any further fine-tuning was needed. The process ensures that my writing is the best it can be.

I do enjoy being self-employed. It is very satisfying to have clients who are a pleasure to work with, and who appreciate the work done to their texts. There are times when I would like to concentrate more on my own writing. Between jobs I have this freedom.

What is your average weekly workload? Does it vary throughout the year?

Hard to tell. When I have a project on, I could be dedicating 30 hours a week to paid work (closer to deadlines, this is higher). When poetry takes over, I don’t look at the clock so much, but somehow remain fixed inside a 9 to 5 framework. There is also the administrative side of things. This is extra, but often the groundwork is laid when I go for a good walk and mull over how I will deal with the tasks that need to be completed.

If you didn’t have the job you are in now, what would you like to be doing?

I can’t see myself doing anything else. There is, though, the ambition to dedicate time to further studies, especially to poetry at a post-graduate level. There are more poetry books ahead, and last year while in Bologna, Italy, I managed to make contact with a couple of academics at the university there who are very interested in literature produced by bilingual writers (my first poetry book was written in Italian). There are so many leads to follow.

Edward Caruso can be contacted at EdwardCaruso@access.net.au. More information about his book, Blue Milonga, can be found at https://www.hybridpublishers.com.au/product/blue-milonga/

Thank you so much, Eddie, for sharing your editing story.