Introducing the New President

We thought you might like to get to know our new president a little better, so we put a few questions to her.

First and foremost, Trischa, welcome to the committee.

Thank you! It's really welcome back, as I did a stint on the committee about a decade ago. I was an early webmaster in the days when it was very primitive - nothing like the gorgeous site Ali Lemer is currently running for us now. But still good fun to do.

You are a very busy woman: you're completing your PhD in judicial education at the University of Melbourne, are a lecturer at Monash University's Graduate Publishing Program, are working on the second edition of the Australian Law Dictionary and you have now bravely taken up the position of Editors Victoria president. You must have had some strong reasons to decide to fit this into your already busy schedule?

Well - ahem - the PhD was supposed to be finished. And a year ago it looked comfortably far off. But Monash is part-time, so it's not quite as Herculean as it might seem. In terms of Eds Vic, I suppose I'd settled back a bit. I was involved at the start of IPEd but had to withdraw for family health reasons. I'd been asked back onto the committee but I hadn't really been coming to meetings much, and I really was busy. Doing the first edition of the Australian Law Dictionary I barely saw daylight for 18 months. But once I started attending dinner meetings again - wow! There was this amazing committee, doing rebranding, new website, new members, a growing society. The most amazing energy, firing on all 17 cylinders. It was the vibe, as they say in The Castle. Who could resist?


In your role of president, what direction would you like to take the society? Are there any changes you'd like to implement?

I think the question really should be, aren't you terrified, following such a great double act (Liz Steele and Rosemary Noble)? Trying to fill two pairs of shoes is a bit daunting. Luckily they were not just numerically advantaged. They had a great committee, and both are brilliant organisers. They rolled up their sleeves to give us a great strategic plan. So we are in a new phase of professionalism that just wouldn't have happened otherwise. The branding is done, the website is there, the newsletter has gone electronic, IPEd is going well, the courses are well attended, great work has been done on the Standards, Charles Houen is managing our funds effectively. We are remarkably well placed. After any major initiative like that, you need to go steadily for a while to consolidate, bed it down. Tweaks at the most.

But there are some things I'd like to do as well. If you want one word, it's connection. More interaction: between us within the society - mixing more at dinners, getting to know each other better - and with other organisations. I want to get the new Editors Victoria, its name and purpose, out there. I am hoping we might establish the niche at the Wheeler Centre that Liz has been exploring, and strengthen our links with other state societies.

One small thing I'd like to introduce is to have presidents from related organisations at dinner meetings - not necessarily to speak, but to meet our members and forge stronger links between the groups. In September I'll be presenting some of the national APA awards in Educational Publishing at the awards night at Federation Square. That is one small waving of the editorial flag. And I want to start getting our records together in one place so all that corporate memory doesn't fly out the window. I want to cut down on email with a new committee blog as a discussion point. The committee now has more discrete portfolios, so it's important that we don't become fragmented by being involved only on our own little tasks.  

How would you rate the society's work to date? What are the most important services the society offers to its members?

I'll refrain from saying any more about the virtues of the previous officeholders. Most are still on the committee and it might go to their heads. But I do think they deserve a hurrah for doing all they have done as volunteers. In a way, we are at an awkward stage: not quite big enough to staff a full secretariat, yet large enough to make it a big ask for volunteers to take on. The experience of serving on the committee is very rewarding, but it could easily tip into being a thankless task. As long as the membership understands that and stays engaged - for example by contributing to the newsletter - it should be manageable.

The committee has also just surveyed the membership for an overview of needs, so we do know in a general sense what the membership wants. But the most important service is what any one member wants at a particular time. If I'm interested in learning how to do eBooks, suddenly Ann Philpott's course scheduling is the centre of my editorial universe. If I feel like catching up with some old mates or meeting some new people (guaranteed to be congenial, of course) then it's dinner meetings or freelancer lunches. If I want to broaden my client base, it's the Freelance Register. We just have to do all of it well, so that when it's wanted, it's there and worth having.

You have had a very rich publishing career, having worked for numerous publishing companies and as author, editor, indexer, publisher, teacher. You also have a degree and keen interest in law. How does one go from law to publishing and vice versa?

Lawyers do tend to love words - at the very least, their main tool is language and their skill is bending it to the task. I've dithered around between law and publishing since the late 1980s. How it happened: as a practising lawyer, I was chopping onions one night listening to Jill Kitson on Radio National. She was talking about the RMIT course and explaining the role of editors. People will be tired of hearing this, but it's true - I was like Saul on the road to Damascus. Instant conversion. Angelic choirs. That's what I was! I was an editor! I had always been an editor. I had to get into that course.

Luckily it happened, and my first freelance job came that way. It was a book called Australian Concrete Technology. Really. Multiple authors, graphs, tables - all very complex hard-copy mark-up that I really had no idea how to do. But somehow I muddled through. I learnt stuff about efflorescence on mortar that I will never forget.

That's another similarity between editors and lawyers. Both are accidental bowerbirds of knowledge from other disciplines. To run a case you often need a very narrow but deep slice of technical knowledge. So you develop interesting silos of expert information unconnected to any of your other silos.

Are you working on anything interesting at the moment?

A big final push on the thesis. The new edition of the dictionary. I've enjoyed being involved in the teaching side of it at Monash, with different units in first and second semesters. I've been doing editing work for OUP (just finished a law book). Inkshed Press, the company I set up with Geraldine Corridon a year ago, has done some interesting work in local government publications, and we have a few book projects running. Jobs we take on benefit from the teamwork, and it's great to have someone to bounce ideas around, and as a backstop.

What do you do when you're not working? Any hobbies?

The more I think about it, the less sure I am that I understand what a hobby is. I've certainly never taken up an organised activity to fill in time. If a hobby is something you do because you want to, perhaps I treat work as a hobby. Life is a hobby. My family might claim to be one of my occasional hobbies. I tend to do non-work things impulsively, with friends. Being an ENTP, the idea of organised pleasure strikes me as perverse. For example, I don't follow football, but I love to go. I do have a team, but only because people keep asking me what it is. (It's the Hawks, or the Cats if I feel like a change. I feel kindly towards the Doggies and the Crows. Perhaps I just like animals!) I have no idea how any of them are going. But if you asked me to a game, I'll be there like a shot.

What are you reading at the moment?

The Poems of John Dewey (pretty bad stuff). Lots of material on Taoism for a conference presentation on the I Ching and the Myers Briggs Type Index in October (for AusAPT, the Australian Association of Psychological Type). Meredith Fuller's type-based book, Working with Mean Girls, about avoiding workplace nastiness. And a book called I is an Other about the way metaphor shapes the way we see the world. I've been a bit light on fiction lately, partly from necessity. Should I be reading Fifty Shades? Not convinced.