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Editor for Life: Sara Scharf, freelance editor

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Sara Scharf

Sara, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I’ve been editing for pay for more than 20 years. My specialty is academic editing, especially for clients in the sciences, engineering, and medicine. I have many interests and have switched fields repeatedly, completing a PhD in the history and philosophy of science and technology, working as a medical market analyst, and then, as a postdoctoral fellow in engineering, studying how to increase innovation in extremely multicultural environments. I thrive on variety and intellectual engagement, which is probably why substantive editing, stylistic editing, and fact-checking are my favourite editing tasks. Of course, I copy edit, too, but I nearly lost my mind earlier this week putting more than 700 references into APA format on a tight schedule.

Journal articles, grant applications, promotion packages, and PhD dissertations are my bread and butter. While I help my clients further their careers, they give me the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research in a wide range of disciplines, from paleontology to polymer chemistry to sociology to electrical engineering. Since many of my clients are not native speakers of English, I often learn about their languages and cultures, too. They also inspire me to learn more about my own language and culture when I explain the origins of English idioms and the subtle differences among expressions. I love how some of the questions they ask really make me think. For instance, one client asked me to explain how possible, probable, potential, and putative are different from each other.

Helping people from a variety of backgrounds express themselves clearly and appropriately in contexts requiring vastly different tones draws on my creativity and is very rewarding. (more…)

No editor is an island: Working remotely and using social media (an Editors Toronto coffee shop)

Meeting over Coffee

If you’re an experienced editor who works remotely, join your colleagues for an evening of lively discussion about the challenges you face and how social media can help. Over drinks, share your questions, conundrums, and experiences in a welcoming group setting, and gain fresh ideas to help you in your work.

Facilitated by Marg Anne Morrison
Wednesday, November 2
7:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Boxcar Social
1208 Yonge St. (at Summerhill subway station)

Registration – free (Editors Toronto members only); participants buy their own beverages

This article was copy edited by Jeny Nussey

Ask Aunt Elizabeth: How do I get work-life balance back?

By Elizabeth d’Anjou

Looking for advice on editing the editing life? Whether you’re a beginner looking for tips on starting out or an old hand looking for another perspective, veteran editor Aunt Elizabeth is ready to address your queries. Submit them to [email protected]—you may find the answers you are looking for in next month’s column.

Ask Aunt Elizabeth: How do I get work-life balance back?

(1) Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I’ve been freelancing from home since my long-term in-house job ended in late 2014. My routine is to wake up at 7 AM, eat breakfast, shower, and then start work. I usually work till 6 PM (longer if there’s a deadline looming), shut off my computer, and make dinner, with only short breaks throughout the day for lunch and tea. 

This routine is getting to me.

My life is so uneventful! I feel so isolated! I rarely see the outside world except through my office window, let alone talk to anyone besides my spouse, who does not work from home. This is so different from the “forced” socialization of the office I was used to (and, admittedly, enjoyed). How do I find the right work-life balance as a freelancer? What steps can I take to feel a part of the world again? 

Sincerely,

Going Stir-Crazy (more…)

Editor for Life: Patrick Walsh, editor-in-chief and brand manager at Outdoor Canada

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Editor for Life: Patrick Walsh, editor-in-chief and brand manager at Outdoor Canada

Patrick, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I became editor of Outdoor Canada in 2000, and, in 2011, I took on the additional role of brand manager as we delved further into brand extensions and other media. However, the bulk of my workday remains focused on planning, assigning, packaging, editing, and writing. I’m also active on social media under the Outdoor Canada banner. I grew up in Bracebridge, Ontario, so the magazine’s subject matter—fishing, hunting, and conservation—is close to my heart. I guess you could say this job was made for me. I began my editing career in 1984 (see below) and have since worked in a variety of media, both here in Canada and abroad. But it’s at Outdoor Canada where my career has been at its brightest: the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors named me Editor of the Year in 2005, 2011, and 2012, while Outdoor Canada itself was named Magazine of the Year. I’m very proud of that and of my team. (more…)

The Nitpicker’s Nook: October’s linguistic links roundup

The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, and blog posts The Nitpicker's Nookfrom around the Web. If you read something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected].

By Robin Marwick

  • There’s a widespread misconception among writers that editors don’t really add much to their work and, indeed, often change it for the worse. John Adamus sets them straight. (Terrible Minds)
  • On a related note, Katharine O’Moore-Klopf explains to her clients why editing takes longer than reading for pleasure. (EditorMom)
  • Should you take an editorial test for a new client? Liz Jones says editing tests don’t have to be a burden. (Society for Editors and Proofreaders)
  • Productivity through procrastination is possible (promise!). The Chicago Manual of Style interviews John Perry, author of The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing, for some tips. (CMOS Shop Talk)
  • Building custom style sheets for PerfectIt is easy, says Daniel Heuman, and gives you a useful tool to ensure your capitals, hyphens, commas, and spelling are just the way your client wants them. (Society for Editors and Proofreaders)
  • Whether it’s losing a good client or having to deal with an impossible one, setbacks happen to every freelancer. Ruth E. Thaler-Carter has some tips for turning freelancing lemons into lemonade. (An American Editor)
  • Lexicographer Erin McKean searches for weird and wonderful words in the wild and corrals them at Wordnik, a not-for-profit online dictionary. Sounds cromulent. (American Copy Editors Society)

Robin Marwick is a Toronto-based freelance editor, medical writer, content strategist, and dog lover.

This article was copy edited by Jeny Nussey.

 

The Nitpicker’s Nook: August’s linguistic links roundup

The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, and blog posts from around the Web. If you read something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected].

By Robin MarwickThe Nitpicker's Nook

  • It’s summertime and the living may be easy, but the editor is wishing she were on a patio or in a pool instead of at her desk. Here are some tips for staying focused all year long. (American Copy Editors Society)
  • Ellie Barton is studying for the Editors Canada copy editing certification exam in November. If you’re taking the exam as well—or just thinking about it—why not follow along? (EditorsReads)
  • Having a feel for measurements and an eye for loose ends are important skills for aspiring recipe editors, according to Liz Jones. (Society for Editors and Proofreaders)
  • To hyphenate or not to hyphenate compounds? Is your knowledge out of date? Every editor has probably struggled at least once with a tricky compound. Beth Hill walks us through The Chicago Manual of Style’s useful cheat sheet. (The Editor’s Blog)
  • It’s not always easy for your editorial business to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Louise Harnby says it’s all about the “four Ps” of persuasion. (An American Editor)
  • Establishing a rapport with an author, while remaining professional, can be a delicate balancing act. Adrienne Montgomerie has some suggestions. (Copyediting.com)
  • Can smiley faces help with that rapport? Erin Brenner thinks emoticons have a place in the editor’s toolkit. (Copyediting.com)
  • Most fiction editors have heard writers ask the dreaded question: “Do I really need an editor?” Indie author Teymour Shahabi says yes, absolutely, and offers a great primer for authors on why editors are so important and how to find one. (Jane Friedman)

Robin Marwick is a Toronto-based freelance editor, medical writer, content strategist, and dog lover.

This article was copy edited by Jeny Nussey.