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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…)

The Daily Grind: Toronto café L’Espresso Bar Mercurio

The Daily Grind is an ongoing mini-feature that highlights the best cafés in Toronto for freelance editors looking for a caffeine fix and a temporary office away from home.

MercurioBy Sara Scharf

Whenever I need a little italianità or crave a superior cappuccino, I head to L’Espresso Bar Mercurio. This family-owned “bar” (in the European sense) is located on the ground floor of Grad House, on the southeast corner of St. George and Bloor streets. It is always buzzing with the convivial chatter of academics, expat Italians, and various literati—Margaret Atwood and Lawrence Hill have been spotted here by my fellow editors. Light meals and pastries are made in-house and include a large selection of traditional Italian, vegan, and gluten-free goodies. I recommend the almond crescents and donut puffs, but the panini with sweet potato fries also has a cult following. Whether you’re working, dropping by for brunch on the weekend, or kicking back on the patio and pretending you’re in Italy, L’Espresso Bar Mercurio is well worth a visit. And all students receive a 20 per cent discount!

Wi-Fi: Available, but ask at the counter for current particulars

Number of tables: 35, plus a private room seating 14

Number of power outlets: Three

321 Bloor St. W., open Mon.–Fri. 7:30 AM–7:30 PM, Sat. and Sun. 9 AM–5 PM

Sara Scharf is a freelance academic editor and a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, and she could use a cappuccino right now.

This article was copy edited by Jeny Nussey.