Georgia Atkin awarded 2023 Claudette Upton Scholarship


Toronto, June 19, 2023—The Editors’ Association of Canada (Editors Canada) has announced that Georgia Atkin of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is the recipient of the 2023 Claudette Upton Scholarship.

First awarded in 2010, the scholarship is a $1,000 cash award intended to support continuing professional development in editing.

Headshot of Georgia Atkin

Like many editors, Atkin can’t remember a time when literature wasn’t a part of her life. “I’ve loved books and creative writing ever since I was a kid (I write poetry and fiction), and I grew up wanting to be a writer,” she said. “However, it wasn’t until my early 20s that I became aware of editing as a possible career.”

When the founder of Open Heart Forgery, a monthly journal of poems and lyrics based in Halifax, put out an urgent call for volunteers in 2014 to help keep the project going, Atkin jumped in to assist with editing and became part of a local community of volunteers and writers.

“I’m still volunteering with Open Heart Forgery today,” she said. “I also got involved as a volunteer writer and editor for Wikipedia in 2017, which has been a neat experience—I’ve made some great long-distance connections and gotten lots of practice contributing to article improvements.”

Suspecting she was onto something, Atkin started taking editing courses at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) in 2019. The knowledge, tools and strategies she began to acquire, combined with her volunteer experience, unlocked a world of possibility. “That’s when I decided editing was something I wanted to pursue seriously,” she said.

Since then, Atkin has embarked on a freelance editing career, working on projects ranging from a romance novel and long-form poetry to a health sciences journal, a book on cross-cultural communication, and short stories and personal essays. She continues to take editing courses part time and will soon receive her Publishing Certificate from TMU.

In a world where writing assistant apps are seen by many writers as an alternative to professional editing, how would you convince an author of the value of your editing services?

Apps, bots and AI are all the rage, and this year’s essay question was a timely one for those who wonder if technological advances will eventually spell the end of the editing profession. In response, Atkin drew on her own experience and spoke to what is at the heart of good editing: the author-editor relationship.

“Over the course of my projects, I’ve worked with clients to determine best practices for using Indigenous terminology in a research paper, to navigate the challenges of translating a Bosnian proverb into English in an autobiography, and to explore the use of colours and typefaces to distinguish different voices in a narrative poem about the end of the world. Each of these texts required professional editing skill and imagination to support the author in their chosen goal, and each experience will contribute to my future editing conversations with clients,” she wrote.

“Writing assistant apps can take a set of preprogrammed rules and apply those rules to your text, but they lack the capacity to offer anything more. An app can’t intuit your vision for a writing project. It won’t offer bold, creative solutions to difficult stylistic or structural issues. And it will never care about the quality of the final result.”

The selection panel for the 2023 Claudette Upton Scholarship commended Atkin for the breadth of work she has already undertaken in her career and for the thoughtful analysis she gave in her essay, likening editing to a conversation that “turns static text into a living, breathing thing.”

“It is clear that she will be a careful and conscientious editor,” said one judge.

While there are some who mistakenly believe that editing is a mechanical process rooted in minutiae, Atkin never fails to see the forest for the trees.

“When I was a teenager, one of my great uncles gave me some painting lessons,” she said. “He told me that, after you’ve been focusing on one particular aspect or section of a painting for a while, the best thing to do is pause, take a step back, and look at the picture as a whole. Taking that broader perspective can help you see more clearly and prevent you from getting too caught up in a single detail. It’s good painting advice, but it works for other situations too! Sometimes you just need to take a step back and look again.”

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This year’s selection committee for the Claudette Upton Scholarship consisted of three respected Canadian editors.

Through an eclectic career that spanned hospitality, software localization, computer programming and musicology, Aaron Dalton learned firsthand the power of audience-centred communication. He currently works for the Alberta Energy Regulator as an editor and plain language evangelist, where he develops and delivers staff training on effective writing.

Patricia MacDonald has served on several conference committees and task forces, as well as on the national executive council as director of volunteer relations. She oversaw the improving access to member services task force and was instrumental in creating the featured volunteer program, the Editors’ Vine virtual meeting group and the VolunteerConnect spreadsheet.

Madison Taylor (she/her) is a copy editor and proofreader specializing in poetry and nonfiction. She is currently completing the editing certificate program at Simon Fraser University and was the recipient of the 2022 Claudette Upton Scholarship. She lives and works on the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ peoples known as Vancouver, British Columbia.

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About Editors Canada

The Claudette Upton Scholarship is an annual national award that recognizes a promising emerging editor. The award is named in memory of Claudette Reed Upton-Keeley, a gifted editor who loved the English language and was actively involved in social justice and environmental causes throughout her life. She is remembered for her wonderful sense of humour and her sharp mind.

Additional information about the Claudette Upton Scholarship is available on the Editors Canada website.

Editors Canada began in 1979 as the Freelance Editors’ Association of Canada to promote and maintain high standards of editing. In 1994, the word “Freelance” was dropped to reflect the association’s expanding focus to serve both freelance and in-house editors. As Canada’s only national editorial association, it is the hub for 1,300 members and affiliates, both salaried and freelance, who work in the corporate, technical, government, academic, not-for-profit and publishing sectors. The association’s professional development programs and services include professional certification, an annual conference, seminars, webinars, and networking with other associations. Editors Canada has four regional branches: British Columbia; Toronto; Ottawa–Gatineau; and Quebec, as well as smaller branches (called twigs) in Atlantic Canada, Barrie, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton-Halton, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo-Guelph and Manitoba.

Media contact

Michelle Ou (she/elle)
Senior Communications Manager
Editors Canada

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