While at AJS, I used my time outside the office to take on extra copyediting work for another UCP journal, Classical Philology, to edit as a freelancer for a variety of individual clients, and to take further editing courses at the Graham School. When the volume of freelance work available to me grew to full-time proportions, I decided to strike out on my own and have since added a number of different types of clients and editing experiences to my resume, including a stint in the Research and Statistics Division of the Federal Reserve Board.
As an undergraduate I studied classics, with a focus on Latin. I recently earned a master’s degree in linguistics at the University of Chicago, with a specialization in first- and second-language acquisition and bilingualism. Since an early age, I’ve also studied a variety of modern languages, from Russian to the Romance languages to German. When not editing, I like to spend my time playing with my son; reading; baking, cooking, and eating; exploring Chicago and other cities; and keeping my cat happy.
My editing philosophy
My approach to editing is shaped by three primary influences. The first is my experience working for academic, nonprofit, and government publishers, which has given me an understanding of what sorts of linguistic, graphical, and technical issues are important to publishers and are considered in the profession to be important to readers. The second is my exposure to the advice and thoughts of working editors, linguists, grammarians, and usage experts, through reference works such as Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, Carol Fisher Saller’s excellent book The Subversive Copyeditor, and blogs such as Language Log. My third major influence is my personal experience as a reader, of literature, news, academic works, the internet, business publications, government publications, and other materials.
As a result of these influences, my primary goal in editing is to make the content work—to make it convey its ideas without confusing, distracting, or irritating the intended audience. In addition to the most important task of ensuring that the information and argument are set out clearly and thoroughly, this generally means adhering to a consistent style of spelling, the widely accepted norms of contemporary American English grammar, and the formalities of standard English; for works that have been accepted by a publisher, it usually also means adhering to that publisher’s style conventions.
Within those parameters, however, I try not to be dogmatic about imposing my own or any third party’s preferred mode of expression, and I try to avoid following rules that exist for their own sake rather than for the sake of improving communication. I believe that the way language is actually used, in the aggregate, is the best guide for how it should be used. Thus, when calling on evidence for how to use a given term, I am more likely to cite search results from a relevant database of publications than I am to refer to Strunk and White. In short, I am a descriptivist by inclination, and a thoughtful prescriptivist when the work calls for it.