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by Kayt Duncan

“What Roslyn doesn’t know about writing isn’t worth knowing,” according to Journalist Leigh Sales’ endorsement of Roslyn Petelin’s first edition of How writing works

After an EdsQ speaker presentation evening with Dr Petelin, I agree, and I certainly know why Roslyn “feels very lucky” with the second edition, released at the end of November 2021. Roslyn stepped us through the editorial process of the first edition and left us with the simple truth that a great editor exhibits four key attributes: humility, generosity, imaginative courage and the “breath of life” for supple, spacious prose.

Roslyn took us on a guided tour through content, structure, style and mechanics, and I felt her talk was a beautifully eloquent culmination of all our 2021 topics, brought into a neat nest of knowledge. 

When she spoke about making assumptions about what the audience knew or didn’t know, shared or didn’t share, and the possible legal ramifications of a lack of attention to sensitivity, it brought both Grace Lucas-Pennington’s poignant session on cultural sensitivities to mind as well as Meg Vann’s comments about care, with her presentation on true crime. 

Roslyn’s anecdotes about being pulled up on initialism-debased words and technical jargon drew my mind back to Craig Munro’s presentation in April and his entertaining stories about corrections not always being well received. 

Roslyn’s admiration for her editor and the “monumental contributions” to her work was as good an endorsement as you can get of Professor Dallas Baker’s message: that Queensland is full of writers who appreciate and seek out excellent editors to elevate their message to its full potential. 

I even avoided falling prey to the dreaded “Thesaurus syndrome” in this article, something Roslyn spoke about with a passion equal to that of Robyn Hamilton for online legal deposits, reminding me of the wide interests shared by all our Queensland members. 

The passion and love felt by participants for our speakers’ work have shone through each of our 2021 presentations, and I know I am richer for it. To all our speakers this year, thank you for your words of wisdom. 

If you missed Dr Petelin’s talk, it is now available for download from MemNet, and How writing works; a field guide to effective writing 2e will be available from 30 November from all good retailers. 

That’s a wrap on 2021. 

From everyone on the EdsQ events team, we wish all members a safe and festive end to 2021. We look forward to sharing more evenings of professional enrichment with you, more relaxed social interactions, more PD and more laughs in the New Year.