SD/PEN Member Profile: Sarah Dawson

SD/PEN regularly selects members at random and profiles their background and experience in an interview-style blog post. These are valuable opportunities for members to introduce themselves to other members and prospective clients through this newsletter and on SD/PEN’s website and social media outlets. This profile features editor Sarah Dawson of WordPlay Editing.

How do you describe what you do to someone whom you’ve just met at a networking function?

I usually introduce myself simply as an editor. When asked exactly what an editor does, I explain that my role is to bring clarity, consistency, and elegance to the written word in order to allow the author’s voice and message to come across clearly to the reader.

What made you decide to become a professional editor?

I have always loved reading, and after losing my job as a teacher librarian due to budget cuts, I wanted to find a way to continue working with books. As I had been doing proofreading on the side since college and had a degree in English, pursuing a career as an editor seemed a natural choice. After nearly a decade, I’m still loving every editorial minute!

Which quality or qualities would you most like your clients or professional colleagues to remember you for?

There are two qualities I would particularly like to be remembered for in my editing. First, I would like to be remembered as an editor who had exceptional attention to detail, who was able to catch things even the author might not have realized needed work. Second, and probably more importantly, I would like to be remembered as an editor who was able to preserve the author’s voice and meaning in everything she edited, since that is (in my opinion) the most important part of the editor’s role.

Where would you like to go on your next vacation and why?

I spent a semester abroad in Paris when I was an undergraduate, and I’ve only had the chance to return once in the years since then. I would love the opportunity to introduce my husband and daughter to the City of Lights and show them some of my old haunts—and get to use my French, which doesn’t happen often in San Diego!

What is least favorite word and why?

My least favorite word is reference in cases where it is used as a verb instead of a noun (think, “He referenced the text”). That dislike is something I owe to Dr. Richard Kroll, my Classics professor. At least once every lecture, he would remind us that reference was a noun—not a verb—and that became so ingrained in my brain that I cannot help but shudder whenever I see it used as a verb.

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