Editor takes winding path to find his calling

Victoria’s Mark Grill has always had a passion for languages and the written word. Yet his road to becoming an editor was far from direct. Today, Mark is one course away from completing our Editing Certificate, and has already landed a coveted role as production editor at Orca Book Publishers.

“I put everything I had into pursuing this position and was lucky enough to be chosen,” he says modestly. “I love the work, my new colleagues, the publishers and everything we’re doing as a team.”

But had life gone in another direction, Mark might have plunged into an academic career. After studying comparative literature and modern languages and linguistics at McMaster University, he completed his master’s in German studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He then began a PhD program at UBC, but ultimately couldn’t picture himself in that world for the rest of his life.

“That was the end of the straight path for me,” he says. Instead, Mark moved to Japan to teach English. While working overseas, he took on freelance jobs for a local company, proofreading and copyediting scientific and academic manuscripts for submission to international journals. He found himself enjoying the flexibility of freelancing and being able to take on jobs no matter where he travelled.

“I realized I had a knack for it and could possibly turn this into a full-time career,” he says. “That led me to think about training, joining professional organizations and networking.”

His first step was to join Editors Canada and start asking fellow members about editing programs. “I wanted to do a full certificate program and did some pretty thorough research,” he says. “In the end, the SFU program seemed to be the best fit for me…. I wanted a certificate from a reputable institution and program that would allow potential clients and/or employers to trust that I know my stuff.”

Mark says the program has not only helped him build on skills he already had, but it also gave him some new ones. “Just before completing the Writing and Editing for the Web course, I used what I had learned in that course to land a full-time copywriting and editing position with a marketing company,” he recalls. “That was more writing than editing, but I gained more experience and confidence.”

Overall, the program covered all the bases for Mark: “I’ve had some wonderful, experienced instructors along the way, and I’m grateful to each of them for helping me grow as an editor.”

Now that the Editing Certificate is firmly in his sights, what’s next?

“I plan to celebrate,” says Mark, “because I’ve worked hard in all of my courses and I’ve spread them out over almost two years. And I plan to enjoy the job that this certificate program helped me get prepared for and continue to learn in that role and through taking other courses and webinars.

“And I plan to be a wonderful, loving editor daddy to the child that’s coming into the life of my partner and I later this year. Life doesn’t get much better than this for a fella like me.”

By Kim Mah