When Passion, Education and Words Collide!
Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Over the past year I have been submitting articles to one of the magazines that Debbie Walton edits and have started getting to know her through that journey. I have seen how she has juggled wifing, momming, studying, working, playing, daughtering, sistering, BFFing and so much more in her version of this game of life.
Given that I don't have half of those roles to contend with in my life, I am always intrigued by other women who seem to keep all the balls in the air... and do so with a sense of humour!
She is a proud mom, a passionate fan of Rottweilers, a word nerd and grammar nazi and an all round cool chick!
Without further ado... meet Debbie!
Where can we find you online?
What did you want to be when you were 5 years old?
I wanted to be a doctor which is really bizarre because I get all wobbly when I see blood.
What career are you in now?
I have always been an sub-editor with a passion for print media but I’ve wandered off that path in the past – I became a doula (a woman who gives support, help, and advice to another woman during pregnancy and during and after the birth) and have just finished my post graduate certificate in teaching – but I’m back to being an editor now.
What motivated you to choose the career that you’re in?
My gran always told me that I should study something that will allow me to work from home one day when I had kids. So instead I studied law. After failing miserably in first year I had to beg for another place at Uni. Luckily I rediscovered my love of books and went on to study publishing.
What steps did you / are you taking to realise your dreams?
I was a stay-at-home mom for eight years but freelanced sporadically. Two and a half years ago I realised my passion for teaching and studied a post graduate certificate in Further Education (high school English and Business Management). During my final year I was contacted by an old boss who asked me if wanted to get back into editing. I agreed. I was a full time Mom, full time wife, full time student and full time editor for a year.
I’ve never worked so hard in my life but it paid off. I graduated with distinction and my little business The Type Writer isn’t so little anymore.
What kind of challenges have you encountered along the way?
Time. Juggling my time between my family and my job. I often feel like I have 50 balls in the air and I am so panicked that the ones I drop relate to my kids and my husband. It’s tough to give 100% to everyone.
Also, being a woman in the work place is incredibly difficult. I have experienced discrimination, sexual harassment and have been seen as “less than” because I am the fairer sex so to speak…
Name any 3 attributes that you think are important in your line of work?
Good listener: I need to hear what the client wants
Dedicated: I never give up. I may falter and take a time out but I never give up.
Resilient: Sometimes your client just doesn’t like what you’ve done and will tell you so. It’s important not to take it personally, take it on the chin and move forward.
Have you ever failed in your career and if yes what did you learn from that experience?
Yes. I was hired as a freelance writer to cover a social event and write about it for publishing in a property and lifestyle magazine in KZN. I just didn’t get it right. At all. The brief wasn’t great, but as a seasoned writer I guess I was expected to wing it, write it and nail it. I didn’t. The editor of the magazine told me it was the worst piece of writing she’d seen and that I completely missed the mark. She rewrote it entirely and credited it to herself. She only paid me half of the agreed rate too.
What did I learn? You win some, you lose some. I was young and insecure and didn’t push back. A good editor would have rewritten the content anyway and she should have seen my naïveté and inexperience and nurtured me a bit more. I will never break down a writer like that ever. As an editor I will use that opportunity to teach her and nurture her so that she can go on to be a better writer.
What’s the most bizarre or funniest thing that's ever happened (to you) in your career?
I worked for FHM for a while. I was the only girl on the editorial team and that meant I was exposed to all sorts of nasty “boy things”. Can’t say they were funny so much as they were gross.
What is the most embarrassing mistake you have ever made in your career - and how did you bounce back from this?
I was the sub-editor on a local lifestyle magazine in Brighton in the UK. I was having a bit of an emotional time leading up to my heading back to SA and my subbing skills were shocking! I missed many silly mistakes and didn’t give my job my best for a few weeks. When the sub misses basic spelling errors it’s embarrassing.
How did I recover? I had the most amazing Editor. She asked me what was going on while quietly pointing out my errors, took me out for a beer to debrief and didn’t fire me. I was better after that.
What is the most rewarding part of your line of work?
Seeing my name in print never gets old!
How would you advise someone who’s having a hard time achieving their goals?
I would tell them to take a moment, a day, a week. Look at what you have right in front of you and compare it to where you were last week, last month, last year. Look for the improvement, the progress made, even if it’s the tiniest step forward. Back yourself, keep going, ask for help and advice and work hard always.
What did you have to sacrifice in order for your career to grow?
Bizarrely I’ve had to sacrifice my dream of being a teacher in order to grow The Type Writer. Luckily I have two great career loves and I am happy doing both.
Any specific career advice you would like to share?
Fake it till you make you! You actually can do anything you put your mind to.
How do you define success?
Success for me is getting home from a hard day of work and not having anything to complain about it. It’s my happy children, my happy husband and a happy me. Even if I’m not loaded (financially)!
If you had only two words to describe the essence of who you want to be, what would those two words be?
Anything else you would like to add?
Women are an incredible creature. We really can do anything we put our minds too. Our flexibility and ability to be as strong as steel at the same time is a superpower that we don’t often use to our advantage. We need to rise up and be amazing every day.