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Rediscovering the joys of spare time

This issue, Gatherings profiles Victorian President Stephanie Holt.

When and why did you join IPEd?
It’s too far back to remember, but I probably first joined about 20 years ago.

What is your current and past involvement with IPEd?
In the past, I’ve had occasional roles with IPEd, including on the judging panel for the IPEd Prize, and with the development team for the first accreditation exam. As a member, I’ve attended some fantastic events, including two Redact residential workshops and several conferences, and was especially chuffed to be on a winning Editors Victoria trivia night team a few years ago.

What does IPEd mean to you?
‘To advance the profession of editing’ captures it. But behind the big statement is a commitment to listening to and learning from each other, including emerging editors and those who may be on the fringe of the profession or in nontraditional roles. IPEd is a way to work collectively to advocate for the importance of what we do, and support editors and those they work with in doing it. Clear messages, well-presented argument and affecting stories are vital to making progress on many pressing issues. Good editors and a strong profession play a role in that.

Why are you prepared to volunteer your own time to IPEd? 
I recently stepped away from full-time work at RMIT University, and am taking it slow rebuilding my freelance practice, so it was good timing to join the committee. Volunteering for causes and communities has always been important to me (my entry into editing included volunteering with Sybylla Feminist Press), and it’s very fulfilling to give back. The challenges are rewarding in their own way too — there are always new things to learn and practise.

Some background on your career path — what led you to editing?
I fell into editing through being involved in community-based publishing projects, having always been a big reader. It was probably inevitable I ended up doing something bookish. The segue into teaching editing was probably pretty predictable too: my mum was a primary school teacher, my maternal grandpa was a tech-school woodwork teacher and, on my dad’s side, my aunt and two cousins were high school teachers or teacher-librarians.

If you were not an editor, what would you be?
A historian or art historian.

What do you do in your spare time?
I’m rediscovering the joys of spare time, now that I’ve eased up on work! 

I can waste a lot of time browsing in op-shops and secondhand bookshops (thankfully now reopened), and love gardening, especially productive gardens — herbs, veggies, fruit trees. Time in the garden has been such a solace during this year of Covid. It’s been a good time to rediscover the pleasures of playing piano and sewing, too — making masks from my trove of vintage fabrics.

Stephanie picks up a second-hand bookbinding press.
I’m also starting to reboot a few long-stalled projects — some bookbinding and family history research. One of my predecessors came to Australia from England (or was it Ireland? The details are tantalisingly sketchy) and became well known as an actress, mainly in the goldfields towns of Victoria. It’s fun trying to track her movements and flesh out her story.

What sports do you enjoy watching and/or playing?
I’m an avid sports fan, but I’m not at all athletic — the only thing I’ve ever played competitively is lawn bowls. Aussie rules is my passion. I’m a St Kilda supporter and helped edit an early Saints fanzine (Marching In) and for a while wrote about the Saints regularly for The Footy Almanac — though writing about three grand finals in two years without a win did me in. This year saw the Saints women join the AFLW, and the men outperform expectations with two finals, so hope springs eternal. 

I always try to catch some local sport when travelling, especially the minor and local leagues, each with their own rituals and fan cultures. 

What's your favourite holiday destination? Why?

Road tripping! Summer always means road trips through country towns with my husband, and we’ve had some great road trips in the US as well. The road dictates route and destination, but the journey is all about spontaneity and surprises. It’s slow and rewarding — a true holiday.

If the world ever reopens, I’ve got Tokyo, Montreal, Istanbul, Oaxaca and my favourite, New York City, on the ‘must return’ list of great cities.
   Stephanie at the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh.

Do you have any pets?

I do! I have the most beautiful and loving cat in the world. I know everyone says that their cat is the best, but our Boris is special. I only see him part-time now, as he lives with my daughter in Melbourne, whereas I’m based in country Victoria. She’s been sending me a stream of photos from lockdown. He was a part-feral rescue kitten from the country, the runt of a litter. He can be needy and easily riled, but he’s also incredibly affectionate and touchy-feely. And he’s stupendously handsome.

What are your favourite books/movies?
Top 5 movies: Goodfellas, North by Northwest, Les Enfants du Paradis, My Neighbor Totoro and Mary Poppins

Sneaking into cinemas alone to watch whatever’s up next while making a meal of popcorn, cake, wine and a choc top is my secret indulgence.
Stephanie and Boris
Top 5 books: Hmmm, too many to choose from, and the list is always changing. 

What’s something very few people know about you?

Most people who know me know I love cowboy boots. But they probably don’t know (neither did I till I just stopped to count them) that I’m up to 14 pairs.

What else would you like to share with your fellow IPEd members?
It’s such a privilege to be an editor. It takes expertise, openness, care and a fair degree of humility to do it well — so I hope IPEd helps us nurture those qualities in ourselves and our colleagues, and helps us to  never underestimate our skill or the importance of what we do. (The latter, all the more important in a female-dominated profession.)

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