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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Art of Wyllie Editing

I've been thinking a lot about editing recently...

As a journalist, it's part of the stock-in-trade. I can't help myself. I sub everything I read. (In ye olde newspaper land sub-editors correct, cut and mould copy on the page before putting on a suitable heading, sub-heading, caption etc.)

Menus, facebook posts, websites, signs, my husband's to do lists, my kids' homework... no word or phrase is safe from my beady eye.

Editing is a silent skill. A wily one in many ways. When I edited magazines, I remember thinking after a particularly good issue went out that no-one was likely to say, 'well edited.' And I was right. They didn't...

When howlers went into print under my watch, which they occasionally did, it was almost as if I felt a physical pain. Once, when I was editor of the Daily Record's Saturday magazine, the word 'phoenix' appeared in a headline on the front cover in 100pt +, as 'pheonix'.

My colleague Merle Brown pointed out this bloomer rather tentatively as the mag was still rolling off the presses. Once I removed my head from my hands, I called the printers and was told: 'Hen, the readers'll no' notice and we've printed 500,000 so far.'

He was right. It was just my fellow journalists who noticed.

So. Why am I thinking about editing?

Because, at the moment, I'm spending my evenings editing George Wyllie's soon-to-be-published book of poems and illustrations, Some serious, some not, some not even that.

Emails have been flying hither and thither between a Greek Island, Palma, Boat of Garten and Glasgow, all in the name of this splendid collection of poems from one of the most influential British artists of the late 20th century.

As my Some serious colleague, Angela McEwan, of educational consultancy, Media Matters (http://www.mediamatters.co.uk/) said in one email: 'Editing is definitely a minefield.'

George's economy with language; an ability to draw a simple, yet pure, clean line with words, is as finely-tuned as his ability to fashion an old bit of steel and turn into a bird. Or a Paper Boat out of... well, a robust paper-like fabric which is tough enough to take a beating on the high seas.

In a beautifully-written foreword to George's work, Scots Makar, Liz Lochhead says: 'His structures are poems, just as all the poems in this book are structures.'

Liz Lochhead with George's Canary With Foot Stuck in a Girder

Like an art-work which moves you and suddenly clears the mist from your eyes, a well-edited piece of writing or a well-edited publication can stay with you for a lifetime.

That is my fervent hope for Some Serious, Some Not, Some not even that! which is being published by The Friends of George Wyllie, a group set up by his family to promote and protect his legacy.

The book will be launched at Aye Write! – Glasgow's annual book festival  – on the evening of March 12. (On the way to being a sell-out, so get your ticket now!)

At the two-hour long extravaganza, George Wyllie At 90: A Celebration, a clutch of Wyllie Chums, including Murray Grigor, Pat Kane, Ian Pattison, Charles Jamieson, Tamara Kennedy, Fred MacAulay, Pauline McLean, Murdo Maconald,  Richard Demarco, Neil Baxter, Stuart Hepburn and Martin McCardie, will scratch the surface of a remarkable creative career.

For more details, see:


The book will be available at The Mitchell for the duration of the festival and online from March 12 at:


You will also be able to see a welter of information there about The Whysman Festival, which takes place throughout 2012.

Captain George Wyllie - The Why?sMan

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