Sarah is the editor of City of Words: Toronto Through Her Writers’ Eyes, a new coffee table book that features original essays, stories, novel excerpts, poems and found writing about Toronto by legends such as Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and Anne Michaels, as well as many other local authors including Joseph Boyden, Andrea Curtis, Rabindranath Maharaj, Lawrence Hill and Rosemary Sullivan. The writing is accompanied by beautiful, original photographs that together help us to see Toronto in a new light.
What does a typical Thursday look like for you, starting from when you wake up – to heading to bed?
I have two children so my husband and I work hard to get everybody out of the house by around 8 a.m. so I can get to my desk and start working before 9. Every day is different, depending on what stories I’m working on. But a day often involves interviewing people on the phone or in person, writing as well as researching the old fashioned way, by visiting the library and reading (particularly when I was putting together City of Words). Then I pick up the kids, make dinner, start the bedtime routine. Once they are asleep, I try not to work at night and instead enjoy the silence of a quiet house, books or adult conversation.
What was your first job out of school?
I was an intern at the Toronto Star and spent four months reporting on city news.
What are the 3 skills you require most to do your job well?
Focus: time is precious.
The ability to see a story in the everyday: I make my living as a freelance writer and am therefore always on the look out for stories. The best ones often come out of conversations or day-to-day experiences and observations.
Research skills: Once you have identified the story, you must know where to look to find the right information. This was of utmost importance when working on City of Words.
What do you love most about your career?
I love to write, to tell stories. I love starting with an idea and turning it into something concrete that others can read. It was great to hold City of Words in my hands when I saw the published book for the first time.
Do you have any warnings?
I lived with, and worked on, the idea for the book for several years before it was accepted by a publisher. Sometimes it is hard to remember how long things take!
If you could try a different career on for a year, what would it be?
I would be an artist and paint canvasses.