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Meet Elizabeth Polanco

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Elizabeth Polanco is an editor at Without/Pretend’s The Vault, a home to intimate stories by women. We interviewed her about her workspace where she showed us how she does what she does.

Tell us a little bit about what you do and how you came into it.

I'm a freelance editor and transcriber. I currently work as associate editor at The Vault, a digital venture by With/out Pretend, which is an independent literary press from Toronto. The Vault is subscription based and we publish monthly long form stories from women and non-binary people, along with print collections. I had previously worked as an editorial assistant at Sophomore Mag, a digital feminist fashion publication, and then worked up to editor. I then left to work for The Vault as it launched. For my graduating thesis in university, I also created a print anthology compiling interviews I conducted with seven different IBWOC writers. I feel that I came into this all with an intuition for editing despite my little experience, and I owe it all to some incredible women taking chances on me and fostering my growth and voice as an editor.

What’s on your current to do list?

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How do you prepare yourself to start working?

I work best in the early morning, so I really need daylight to be functioning at highest capacity. I need to have had breakfast, and then I'll put on something comfortable - but not slouchy enough that I can ease out of work and into just lazing around. From there I'll set up at my kitchen table to work.

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How do you keep up with the world around you?

I'm lucky with my friends being really on top of it all, especially on Twitter - we're always DMing each other articles and tweets in a pretty constant loop. If I have time when I go to my job, I like to scan sites like The Cut, Jezebel, The New Yorker, The New Inquiry, and of course The Vault if there's a new piece up. Some are for news, others are just for interesting, creative cultural pieces to read.

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Tell us about your work rituals, how do you get down to it?

If I'm copy editing (or transcribing) in particular, especially at night, I like to work with my glasses on instead of wearing my contacts. Something about the computer screen feels extra tiring on my eyes and it feels like I'm more focused and detailed with my glasses? Maybe it's a placebo effect, but it just feels more purposeful. I'll put in my headphones, put on a quiet instrumental album and get to work. My music of choice is almost always the soundtrack for Pride and Prejudice (Joe Wright version, obv), Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou's Ethiopiques album, Vladimir Horowitz, or some random two hour long Chopin compilation on YouTube. 

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What are three items that you absolutely need in your workspace?

A pen, my planner, and water. Boring but necessary.

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?

Currently reading Tentacle by Rita Indiana, listening to Gal Costa, and waiting to get off work so I can go home and start Our Planet.

Where do we find you and what can we expect next?

Keep your eyes peeled for new monthly stories and print collections from The Vault in the coming months!

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Whose desk (dead or alive) would you love to snoop through and why?

Solange's! I would love to see what kind of media she uses for her creative process -- song writing, video conception, visuals, everything. Does she keep notebooks, sketches, moodboards? Does she work more digitally? I'm very curious.

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You can find Elizabeth here.