Monday, November 21, 2011

Pressing a Pajama Thought

Recently, I had the honour of attending the official launch of Pajama Press. This is a new Canadian children's book publisher but the people behind the company are not new to the business and the three authors that are part of Pajama Press' inaugural collection are well-known authors of KidCanLit. Deborah Ellis, Marsha Skrypuch and Robert Laidlaw were all present at the launch and each writer spoke briefly to the assembled guests as part of the evening.

What resonated with me during the short speeches was the respect and admiration the authors have for Gail Winskill, the publisher behind Pajama Press. Marsha Skrypuch recounted that it was due to Gail's encouragement that she branched out from historical fiction to write this non-fiction book, Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan's Rescue from War. Deborah Eliis discussed how her current title with Pajama Press, True Blue, might appear like a significant departure from her previous books, because it is a murder mystery, but that all her books deal with the choices people make and their impact on others; Ms. Ellis and Ms. Winskill have worked together often in the past while the latter was a publisher with another company, and they enjoyed the collaboration so much that they wanted to continue it.

Much later on, I realized that editors/publishers and teachers have a lot in common. Good ones challenge people to go beyond what they think they are capable of doing to create things that benefit others and themselves. Editors and teachers can inspire, support and nurture. Bad ones can shatter the self-esteem of the people they encounter, plague them with doubt and make listeners dread the barbed comments they have to offer. Good ones can provoke improvement through descriptive feedback and can detect good ideas even when they are buried deep. Teachers and editors are not so much admired for their power and influence as they are for their ability to make good things great. I'm going to strive to make the feedback I give useful, supportive and inspiring. I want students to feel glad that they consulted with me before or during a project because the end result was better because of my involvement. That's what any good teacher - or editor - would want.

This is a photo of the launch - I'm in blue. 
 P.S. I'd like to thank Pat Thornton-Jones, secretary/administration at Pajama Press, for sending me this photo of the launch for me to use in today's post, and for permitting me to use the various Pajama Press logos as visuals for this post.

1 comment:

  1. What a great analogy! Yes, mentors of all kinds encourage you to go beyond your comfort level.