I’ve been the editor of Mensa Canada’s magazine, MC², for a couple of years now. I’m a volunteer, but the job definitely has its rewards. The receipt of a set of original drawings from a 10-year-old Mensa member or a well-researched essay about some off-beat topic can make my day. Like most Mensans, I’m curious about people and ideas, so receiving emails from members asking whether I’m interested in publishing their stories, poems, cartoons, and articles is a joy. So many personalities and styles generating so much creative output!
We have members across the country, of all ages, professions, and pastimes so the magazine content ranges from astronomy to poetry and just about everything in between. MC² is available to all Mensans as a benefit of membership, and I’m always aware of trying to create a magazine that is both useful and engaging. In this group, we all share the trait of intelligence, but beyond that are infinitely variable personalities. Trying to capture the interest of such a diverse group is quite a balancing act. The magazine always carries the latest Mensa Canada news about events, elections, and contests, but I always try to ensure there are one or two stories or poems as well.
Has anyone noticed that the vast majority of articles that appear in MC² are written by men? I don’t do this on purpose; I just don’t receive as many article submissions by women. Female Mensans contribute in other ways, of course. Our president is female, as are many Loc-Secs, VPs, and other volunteers. For some reason, though, writing magazine articles is not their activity of choice.
Over the last year, a handful of our youngest Mensans have contacted me (usually via their parents) to arrange for the publication of their artwork. I’m so glad this is becoming a regular occurrence. These bright, young members bring freshness, enthusiasm, and uncomplicated charm to the magazine. I think I might be as proud of them as are their own parents. I’m also pleased that I can help give an additional benefit of membership to our youngest members by providing this creative outlet.
Not that being the editor is all a bowl of cherries, mind you. Every now and then I run face-first into the limitations of my meagre Adobe Pro and InDesign skills. That’s when I think I’m going to quickly pop an article or photo to whichever issue of the magazine lies half done on my screen and it takes me an hour of re-doing and re-trying. And a bit of cussing now and again. I haven’t yet tossed my computer out a window so I’m calling it a win.
My biggest challenge is time. I own and run a law firm, which keeps me busy all the time. And I mean ALL the time. Like any business owner, I not only do the work we offer to our clients but I also do or supervise hiring, budgeting, advertising, technology, security, ongoing learning, and all the rest. Fitting in time to prepare a magazine wasn’t easy, but I’ve learned how to manage it (mostly!). Most members were kind enough not to complain about late issues while I figured it all out.
How did I get to be editor, you ask? Do I have special abilities, skills or training? To be honest, no. I’ve learned on the job. I was asked to take on the role because I work with words for a living. I’m also the author of 11 non-fiction books and a widely-read blog. I guess the Board figured I could probably string a sentence together if I really had to. The reason I accepted is that I haven’t given much to Mensa in the 28 years since I first joined. I wanted to volunteer in some way that would be meaningful. As with any volunteer group, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
I live in St. John’s, NL, and my local chapter is in Halifax so I don’t get to go out for coffee and game nights with the gang. Occasionally I feel a bit isolated, especially when I see the event photos later and realize how much fun everyone had. Every time I respond “no” to an event invitation, I make a mental note to myself to plan a trip to take in Mensa events in person. Halifax isn’t that far away, right? As editor, I interact with many more members than I otherwise would on my own. I feel as though I’m friends with people I’ve never actually met.
In case I’m making it sound as if this magazine is all me, let me correct that impression. The articles are contributed by the members. Some, like Andrew Chong and Chris Wilde, contribute on a regular basis. Barry Schmidl creates a new crossword puzzle for each issue. The notices and announcements are sent in by the board members, as are annual financial statements and election results. Every issue is proofread in minute detail by Jamieson Cochrane. Translations between French and English are done by Huguette Lamontagne. Jim Mourgelas trained me in my editorship and deals with the publisher. Mary Susan MacDonald supervises the magazine as part of her portfolio as VP Communications. Ben Yap uploads each issue to the webpage. So as you can see, I’m one cog in the wheel.
I understand that this post is going to be the very first of Mensa Canada’s new blog. How exciting! I hope members will use this blog to let me know what they’d like to see more of (or less of, for that matter) in MC².
Let me know what you think in the comments below.