Archive for the ‘June 2015’ Category

What makes a great editor?

In June 2015 on July 2, 2015 at 11:18 pm

Pexels people-apple-iphone-writing

Sarah: The editorial in my Winter 2015 edition of Adelaide Hills Magazine tells me it’s the last volume to be headed up by Max Anderson.

Max was an important influence when I was working out how freelance writing was going to pan out as a career for me. He took a chance and gave me a story to write for the magazine (it was a shocking act: I’d just sent him a terrible pitch for a completely unrelated and mind-blowingly boring article idea). Also, he believed in the power of science stories. And he still does – if you have the chance, please do track down Adelaide Hills Magazine Winter 2015 edition: the interview with Climate Scientist and Ecologist Corey Bradshaw is quite outstanding (it’s written by Lainie Anderson – you can catch snippets of it here).

But best of all, Max — along with other editors in my life — provided a chance for me to see how a great editor can help your own writing progress.

Here’s a quick list that summarises 5 of my thoughts as to what makes a great editor:

  1. A great editor doesn’t leave you floundering, wondering what he or she wants from you. He or she is clear in what the word count should be, provides examples of similar articles, gives a little bit of early guidance and options as to what it might turn out like, and then leaves it up to you.
  2. A great editor doesn’t accept exactly what you’ve written the first time. She or he provides a critical appraisal – tells you which bits work and why, and then gives it back so you can make it better. All of it.
  3. A great editor might change his or her mind as to what the piece should consist of after the first or second draft. This feels terrible as a writer — you’re in the zone, you’ve created what feels like a good story…and then suddenly BANG. It needs a new section?! But yes, it does. Once you reach the final version, you will see it.
  4. A great editor insists on a kick-butt beginning and an unforgettable ending. There’s no point in having a brilliantly crafted meat in the sandwich unless the reader actually gets through the top layer of bread, right? Similarly, it’s utterly disappointing to finish a meal with a bad taste in your mouth. Open with a bang, finish with polish.
  5. A great editor asks you what you think of other stuff in the magazine and the world, and actually listens to your answer.

[image thanks to]


Without a hive, bees still engineer perfectly

In June 2015 on June 24, 2015 at 6:15 am

October 2014

Sarah: This dark mass under the ledge of a limestone cliff on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula is formed by bees.

I spotted and photographed the swarm — as I thought it was transient — in October 2014.

During the same week, my family and I discovered thousands and thousands of dead bees in the garage of a nearby house.

With some information provided by a quick twitter conversations with SA Museum, we concluded a group of bees had tried to set up in the house, but then moved to the beach when the queen pulled the pin.

However, when we returned to the same spot several months later, the bees were still there! And incredible structures were visible beneath them – sheets of honeycomb.

jan closeup

Excitedly, I got in touch with the Museum again – this time via email. Two separate scientists sent me responses:

“If appropriate nesting sites are limited, honeybees may try and locate an area that is out of the elements like a cave or crevice and they will sometimes construct their combs exposed in this manner. Often when they do this the hive’s survivability is diminished during winter time.”

“I recall finding numerous such nesting sites under low calcrete / calcarenite ledges on the coastline of Coffin Bay or Venus Bay on Eyre Peninsula.”

I watched the bees for hours, and thought about them endlessly after we had returned to Adelaide .

Lo and behold, when we ventured to the beach again in April 2015, there they were still! But numbers were lower – which made me sad (but I was secretly also thrilled to be able to view more honeycomb).

April 2015

Another trip in June 2015 confirmed the trend – very few remaining bees, and more visible honeycomb. It appears the museum expert was right – wintering under a beachside ledge is a big ask for bees.

June 2015 close

With a few more days planned for Yorke Peninsula in the July school holidays, I wonder what we will find? I’ll be sure to post more photos then.