Everything you ever wanted to know (about me)

 

If you don't know much about me yet, here's a start:

 

I'm on a mission to help make academic writing easier for people.

 

In specific terms, that means I'm a grant consultant, an editor, and a writing coach.

I've always been an avid writer (and an avid reader, for that matter). It makes me tremendously sad to see so many people struggle and slog through their writing—especially because most of the people I work with are doing truly AMAZING things. They're researchers working to improve the health care system, they're people working for non-profits making a huge difference in their community, or they're graduate students producing a piece of work that's years in the making.

For them, writing is so often the enemy. But they need to write to survive. Their career depends on it, whether that means advancement though the academic ranks or whether it's keeping the lights on at their non-profit. Talk about stressful.

 

I want to change that.

 

So let me tell you a little more about me:

I live in beautiful, spectacular Vancouver, BC: playground for outdoorsy folks (I'm definitely one of them). I'm not from here, though. My dad was in the Canadian military and we moved around a lot. I've lived all across Canada, including a remote Northern community (Goose Bay, Labrador) and a smallish city in Germany (Lahr). I went to boarding school starting at age 15. And I did most of my higher education in Ontario and Quebec (je parle français!).

My undergraduate degree was in a very small liberal arts program at McMaster University (I didn't have to decide between English and Biology! Thank goodness.) After a brief and misguided detour (more on that later), I got a Masters degree in population health research from the Université de Montréal (where that français came in super handy).

I worked in universities across Canada as a research manager and grant writer for about a decade before starting my own business in May 2016 (I'm still pretty new at this). A big perk? Nobody gives you the side-eye for wearing sweatpants to work.

I'm also the co-founder of a non-profit society called Basics for Health. And I've done some research on how we can teach doctors to be better advocates for their patients. Which means I've always sort of straddled the non-profit and academic sectors, and those sectors are now the main focus of my business.

I've had a pretty fantastic career so far, but a lot of it has been accidental. It has taken me a looooooong time to figure out what I want to do. (Did I mention I went to law school at McGill University for a while? Yep. That happened.) That's one of the hazards of being multi-passionate: there's always a new shiny thing to draw your attention. It used to bother me a lot that I couldn't just decide on something.

 

But when I took a closer look at my path, there were a couple of very strong threads that ran through:

 

  1. A steamy love affair with writing
  2. A passionate desire to make life better for people who are struggling (I'm a Pisces)

This has been—and continues to be—true in my career AND in my personal life. It has meant being the go-to person for writing advice and last-minute editing. It has meant late night phone calls and teary conversations. It has meant working with my partners into the wee hours to start a non-profit, with ZERO experience, but a whole lot of heart. It has meant forging out on my own to work directly with clients to help them get over their writing hangups.

There's another important thing you should know about me: I have an extremely rare genetic disease called Camurati-Engelmann. Nearly ten years ago I had a serious scare that involved emergency brain surgery to save my life. Needless to say, this changed things for me. I gave myself permission to follow those threads wherever they lead, and to just appreciate what I have. Living with a serious, progressive condition has really motivated me to focus on what matters, and it has given me some urgency to design a life that I find meaningful. (Update: I wrote about this recently. If you'd like to read about it, start here.)

I've always been able to distill complex subjects into clear and simple terms. Half the time I don't even realize I'm doing it. I have no idea where this comes from, but it is hands-down the thing that people comment on the most.

And so in this business of mine, I get to do just that. I get to offer simple and clear writing advice—for free—to people who subscribe to my newsletter. And when I'm consulting on grants, when I'm editing an academic paper, or when I'm coaching someone through a dissertation, I get to spend my time working with dedicated, motivated, big-hearted people. Pretty great, right? Spending my days working with intelligent, dedicated, scrappy folk is pretty much career paradise.

So now that you know about me, I'd love to know a little bit about you. Please scroll down to the comments and tell me what you find challenging about writing.

Or if that feels too weird for you, I hope you'll fill out this short questionnaire. Click here to answer a few questions.

So glad you're here!

Sarah xx

PS. If you want to read more about me, including some seriously unusual personal details (teaser: you'll learn what I do to let loose), click here.