“You can take the girl out of Australia, but you can’t take Australia out of the girl.” – Jenny Gates
Jenny has had a storied and eclectic career with many layers and pursuits. This has led her along unexpected roads where she has tapped into a variety of opportunities, all of which she regularly explores in her current pursuits.
How did you get into your current pursuits of speaking, editing and writing?
After talking my way into a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Zoology at Sydney University in 1978, I talked my way into the Australian Museum where I worked as a technical writer, was co-author of three scientific catalogues, and editor of scientific publications. I then took a diploma in book editing and publishing at Macleay College in Sydney and graduated with distinction. Shortly after moving to Canada in 1994, I launched a freelance business in writing and editing, and then added speaking and storytelling to the mix.
How important is “WORDS . STORIES . CONVERSATIONS” in what you do?
As obvious as it is now, it took me a while to figure out those things are at the core of everything I do. Whichever pursuits or projects I am involved in, words, stories and conversations are how I connect with people and move them to build bridges within and with each other.
Is it hard to juggle all your many pursuits?
Speaking, editing and writing require very different skills, but they all involve words, stories and conversations. So in many ways, they complement each other. And because I have worn many hats over the years, I am able to bring a variety of skills and experiences to the stage and the page, and use them to tell stories and start conversations.
For more information about Jenny and her various pursuits and projects, click on the buttons below, or contact Jenny today.
How did you get into professional speaking?
After being interviewed on Winnipeg television about moving to Canada, I was encouraged to share my skills and experiences in a series of technical presentations. Although they were well received, I realised it was not the direction I wanted to go, and took some time out from speaking to focus on other pursuits. But I missed being on stage and connecting with people, so I’m back with a series of conversations that take a lighthearted look at ourselves and the way we live, work and play.
How has storytelling played a role in what you do?
I have always been telling stories through music and writing, and then one day, someone called me a storyteller. That’s when I realised it was essential to what I do. I enjoy sharing the adventures and discoveries in my journey through life, as well as telling tales about Australia and my experiences living, working and leaving there. And as it turns out, people seem to like my Aussie accent, so that’s a bonus.
What sort of editing is your primary expertise?
I started doing scientific editing and writing, and began freelancing in proofreading and copyediting. Then when I edited my first book, that changed everything. I now focus on substantive book editing where I dig deep into the manuscript to help authors tell the best story possible. With 19 published titles to my credit, I am known for working with authors to reveal the truth in the telling and capture the imagination and interest of readers.
When did you start writing?
My first ‘book’ about a devastating accident that almost ended my life set me on a literary path. Initially, it was poems and songs, and later articles and stories. In fact, when I started putting together a selection of my writing, I was surprised by the diversity of forms I had engaged in over the years. More recently, I have begun to further explore some of those forms to see where else they might take me. For me, writing is how I bring stories to life and share them with others.
One of your other pursuits is Up From Down Under. What is that, and is music important to you?
Up From Down Under is a music duo with Winnipeg didgeridoo player Gerry Gordon. We tell stories about some of the colourful characters and history of Australia, as well as my experiences living, working and leaving there. Music is a key component of who I am, and began with a piano that turned up in our home when I was five years old. I took to it right away, and was on track to be a concert pianist until a devastating accident crushed that dream and led me instead to rock ’n roll, wedding reception venues, and piano bars.
And Corroboree sounds like an interesting project.
Corroboree is my idea for a multi-purpose, cross-cultural, not-for-profit resource and education centre. It was designed to promote and connect Australia, New Zealand and Canada by sharing cultures and education, celebrating indigenous people, restoring prairie grasslands, and showcasing the arts and artistic endeavours. Despite being launched in 2007, the $15-million project never quite got off the ground, but it’s still on the books and will hopefully one day come to fruition, in one form or another.
Of which groups and associations are you a member?
There’s a few, so let’s see …
- Toastmasters International, where I have two Distinguished Toastmaster designations in leadership and communication, the highest educational achievement in that organisation,
- Manitoba Storytelling Guild, which helped me secure my first professional storytelling gig,
- Manitoba Editors’ Association, through which I have connected with some very talented authors and fellow editors,
- Manitoba Association of Playwrights, where writers of all levels are encouraged and celebrated by other playwrights, and
- Manitoba Writers’ Guild, a strong and active resource for writers of all levels.
What inspires you the most?
Words, because they can change the world – and create entirely new ones.