I bring many years of language experience to my editing. I grew up in South Africa (where we spoke and wrote English rather than American), and have worked and studied in technical and scientific fields.
Because my parents were German, that was the first language I spoke. And because I went to grade school in South Africa, I learned not just English, but also Afrikaans. And because it was a German immersion school based on the German gymnasium model, “a foreign language” was required in high school. The choices were: French. Not that I’ve kept up with all of that. But I did develop a keen sense for words and how they’re put together.
I came to editing via writing. In the dim past I attended a wonderful writing workshop taught by the estimable Laurel Leigh, editor and writer, which spawned a critique group, which spawned my interest in why some stories work and some just, well, don’t.
Along with providing story feedback for my long-suffering critique partners, I marked up their pages, because I couldn’t help myself. Lie, not lay. Pedal, not peddle. That comma doesn’t quite belong there. If you switch these paragraphs, it flows better. How did the yellow stand-up paddleboard turn into a red kayak? (Standup paddle board? Stand up paddle board? Stand-up paddle-board? There’s no consensus on the internet. But Webster’s says stand-up is hyphenated and paddleboard is one word, even though they don’t list the combination. That’s good enough for me.)
I took writing classes, went to conferences, read. At the Tin House Summer Workshop I learned more story craft from Steve Almond. Two invaluable pieces of wisdom from him:
Never confuse your reader.
Slow down where it hurts.
If you let me edit your fiction, you might see me quote that.
Stories started to make sense. I was still critiquing for my group, but it no longer seemed like such uphill work. Word got around. I was asked to look at longer pieces, then manuscripts for novels. I began to edit my husband’s engineering papers. He brought home a best-in-conference award.
I took more writing classes. I took classes in the fine art of copyediting.
If people were coming to me for an opinion, I felt I ought to know what I was doing. I bought the books. I learned about style sheets. I bought red lead for my mechanical pencils. Have you ever done the little piggy-tail delete symbol? This one?
It’s really fun. Give it a try!
Manuscripts I worked on were published, and my name started showing up in acknowledgments, with thanks and gratitude. It was time to make it official.
So here I am: Sabine Sloley, Editor.
I live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband and cat, having pushed my fledging offspring out of the nest a couple of years back. (He’s doing fine, thank you for asking.) When I’m not editing, I’m writing, or sailing, or walking one of the many trails around our lovely town, or paddling my (red) kayak on Lake Whatcom.
In a previous life I was a chemical engineer. Oh, and a veterinarian.