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Forrest Orser


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I’m a freelance editor. I’d enjoy helping you make your writing the best it can be. I was a daily newspaper editor for more than 30 years and I’m a published poet and short story writer. My website has all the information that would fit in a résumé. It details my work experience and lists the short stories and poems I have published.

I’m going use this space to tell you some things that don’t fit into a résumé.

When you tell people you used to cover courts, they sometimes say, “Oh, I think that would be so interesting.”

It usually turns out that they like watching movies about trials. Movies are made to be entertaining. But no one involved in a trial cares if it’s entertaining. If the judge decides there has to be an hour’s recess, then there is, and if you get bored, that’s too bad.

Of course, most people don’t have trials anyway, most people plead guilty. So if you are covering courts, most of the time you gather basic information: Name, address, charge, fine and/or sentence.

You’re there waiting in the hallway outside the courtroom with whatever family members came. Mothers or girlfriends are often crying. And you’re waiting with most of the accused. Some of the accused are brought in custody to the prisoners’ box. Almost all of the accused have done mean, destructive things, but when they are waiting to go before the judge, they are truly miserable. And 95 percent of them are young men, 19 to 25, in a lot of trouble when they should be starting to build their lives.

I didn’t find it interesting at all – I found it depressing.

My résumé doesn’t tell you how exciting it was to cover the 1978 N.B. election.

Another reporter and I did all the coverage for The Daily Gleaner. I covered everything from nomination meetings to the release of the Liberal and NDP platforms.

During the last week of the election, in a rare bust of spending, The Daily Gleaner rented me a car and I followed first Richard Hatfield and then Joseph Daigle wherever they went.

When Hatfield was campaigning in a public place, he tried to shake hands with as many people as possible, stopping only long enough to say something like, “Hello, I’m Richard Hatfield.” And he was fast, hard to keep up with. In Highfield Square in Moncton I once saw him moving so fast that he shook hands with two women, noticed a figure to his left and almost shook hands with a mannequin.

And I was four feet away from Joseph Daigle when he conceded defeat.
My résumé doesn’t even mention the pleasure of editing: catching mistakes and making stories better. Or the pleasure of having good stories and photos and putting together a page that will visually grab the reader’s attention.

My résumé doesn’t tell you how much I loved being book page editor. I enjoyed sorting through submitted review copies looking for books we were going to review. I enjoyed finding people who wanted to review books. I enjoyed selecting the right reviewer for the book. I enjoyed putting together book pages with lots of news about new books. And I enjoyed promoting local books by displaying their reviews prominently. I enjoyed leaving the leftover review copies for other Gleaner employees to take home. And what they didn’t want, I enjoyed donating to the Fredericton Public Library.

Lots of things don’t fit into a résumé.
  • Editing
  • Fiction
  • Journalism
  • Non-Fiction

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