29 December 2006

Trashy translation and a narrow escape

Having survived Christmas (thank you, Santa dearest, for all the lovely gifts), it was soon business as usual. I stupidly forgot to remind my regular clients that I wouldn't be working over the holiday period and, sure enough, an urgent request arrived yesterday morning. Just 8 pages for a quick edit - no problem, I thought, it's only an hour's worth of work. How wrong can one be? The copy was a very bad translation from Dutch, so bad I had to rewrite almost all of it from scratch. Fortunately, the client had attached the original Dutch to the email so I was able to work through it (yes, I speak Dutch, albeit badly, but I can read it fairly fluently). That took almost three hours instead of the expected one.

I also went out yesterday morning to meet a local businessman with a view to pitching a feature around him. The meeting went well - now I just need to write the pitch.

Today was less good. Having decided to get a head start on my New Year resolution to exercise more instead of slobbing it in front of my PC, I went to the gym. First, I had to endure the shame and embarrassment of discovering that the gym computer no longer recognised me - it's been so long since I last went (just don't ask how long, please). I had to find the trainer to get keyed into the system manually and do a low-level workout.

Worse was to come - I took a cab home. Normally I walk but my sister was with me and it was raining. We arrived home, I paid the cabbie and opened the door without looking. And someone drove right into the open door. A split second's lapse of concentration and I'd written off two cars and deprived the cabbie of his NYE fares. I still feel really angry with myself.

It could have been worse. I hadn't actually started to get out of the taxi. If I had, I'd be facing a double amputation above the knee after having had my lower limbs crushed.

Not a good end to 2006.

Things can only get better...

21 December 2006

All finished

I'm done with work for this year. A couple of smallish jobs arrived this morning, somewhat unexpectedly, but they were quick to do. I also spent several hours drafting a style manual for a client. That's not finished but it's only needed next year so I'll finish it off on 2 January.

So that's it - all over.

I just need to move back into my newly redecorated office now, but that may take a while as my beloved P is still building shelves. There's most of tomorrow, though, for that when we are not shopping for last-minute Xmas presents.

Roll on 2007!

19 December 2006

Progress report

Two days in and my new office has been transformed. It's amazing what a coat of paint does. My beloved P and a friend have been working their socks off. The painting was finished by lunchtime and the new floor is almost laid. Tomorrow, P is building new shelves for me for my work files and reference books. Thursday I should be able to move back in. Which is a good thing, as I'm not keen on being in the front room where passers by can see me.

The project I was expecting fell through, but a potential client I've been waiting weeks to hear from has finally called. I smell work early next year.

It's been a quiet day. Christmas is in the air and I'll be downing tools shortly until 2007.

18 December 2006


My beloved P has turfed me out of the room in which I work.

We are redecorating the "office" this week and as soon as I have posted this, I will be shutting down my PC and packing my desk up. Then I'm moving into the front room for a few days while P gets on with the job. I still have work booked in this week, so I'll be back online shortly once my new workspace has been set up.

But I'll be glad when it's all finished and I have lovely new, fresh paint on the walls and a new floor and new bookshelves for my ever-growing collection of dictionaries.

What a great Xmas present!

14 December 2006

And now, for my next trick...

I've been tasked with creating a style manual for my new client. Yesterday's meeting went well, although it was startlingly brief. It was handshakes all round, a quick chat to reach agreement and that was it. Done and dusted in 30 minutes. I bit the bullet and took the Tube back to Euston (I loathe the underground to the point of phobia, but I only had to endure 3 stops and it wasn't busy), enabling me to catch an earlier train home than planned.

At Euston, I needed to use the loos - they are not nice. They cost 20p to get in and you can guarantee someone will have peed on the seat and there's probably no loo paper either, nor coat hooks. What's a girl to do when she has three bags and a coat? Luckily, I have one of these. This magic device is one of the few pluses to being officially disabled - the loo was free, clean, dry, private, and more spacious than my own.

The style manual will take me about half a day to write up. I've created these before, although never as a freelance. My client desperately needs one - the company is based abroad and all the copy is written in their native language and then translated. I get to edit the translated copy - while it's good quality, it still needs polishing. The style manual will ease both the translator's job and mine. I already have one on file I can use as a basis for the new one. Then the real work starts early next year.

Only two jobs booked in now between now and Christmas - the style manual and a small book for one of my regular clients. Then I'm taking two weeks off.

12 December 2006

Playing away from home

Yesterday afternoon was spent at a corporate bash organised by my beloved P. Usually, I hate these things as it means getting frocked up and having to endure small talk with people I wouldn't normally even glance at on the bus. However, P excelled himself by organising an event at a facility that is usually totally closed off to the public and had never, until yesterday, hosted a corporate event. It was a lot of fun and has given me an idea for a fantastic pitch for a feature, if I can place it. P reckons the facility owners would be keen on some publicity after everything went so well yesterday, so I doubt getting an interview would be a problem.

I'm going to knuckle down this afternoon and write my Xmas cards for my clients. Last posting date looms large. I still have gift shopping to finish and post too. I'm setting Thursday aside for that.

Tomorrow involves catching yet another train to London for yet another meeting. For once, the client is paying me my day rate for taking the whole day off to attend the meeting. I'm looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with this client.

07 December 2006


My accountant just mailed to say she's done my returns. Hurrah - I'm due a rebate.

Don't all rush - it'll stretch to a round for 5-6 at the pub. That's all.

06 December 2006

No pausing to catch breath

Hectic, hectic, hectic...

I can hardly keep up with my life at the moment. My diary keeps changing - I'm off to London twice in the next week - Friday first, to spend the evening at a club. Purely for business networking. My poor beloved P is accompanying me (as payback for all the corporate dinners where I had to get frocked up for him), but he's in Brussels right now, so much hassle ensued to get his flights changed so he could arrive at Heathrow instead.

The next trip to the Smoke should have been Thursday next week, but has now been moved forward a day to Wednesday. Time to meet my big, new and very important client. The hotel where we're meeting is very posh and has a sushi bar. As one of the clients is Russian, I think I'll be foregoing the raw fish :)

Unfortunately, the change of date means that once again I'll miss the Connect Media North West meet-up in Manchester, as I simply won't be able to get back in time. Grr.

In the interim, I've got a business networking meeting on home territory tomorrow night. It'll while away the hours until I see P again. My lovely graphic designer and I have been planning a pint and catch-up for a while but trying to match up diaries is proving difficult. We're pencilling in sometime Friday week.

Then there's the corporate bash on Monday afternoon for P's sake, which I really can't wriggle out of, seeing as I refused to go to New York. Plus a medical appointment to squeeze in.

Good heavens - it's a wonder I've found time to get any work done!

Actually work's been a bit quiet this week, which is a good thing. It means time to write a brief for someone I want to commission for a major feature. And time to do my Xmas cards for my clients.

01 December 2006

10 things

1. I somehow managed to pull a muscle in my back while asleep last night. It's been bloody agony sitting at the computer all day. I'm going to give in and take ibuprofen now. I can't stand it any longer.

2. I finally located the last still for the films feature I commissioned. It only took 4 weeks, 5 emails and about 9 phone calls...

3. My specially made "corporate" Xmas cards were delivered today. I was taking a bit of a chance hiring a relatively unknown young designer who I found by networking on the net, but he's done me proud and I'm singing his praises to all and sundry now.

4. My diary is looking frighteningly full for this month, what with a batch of business meetings coming up (meaning I can't slob around at home in front of the PC), the nearest I'll get to a "works Xmas party" and attending the leaving do of my beloved P's boss.

5. I've finally spent the birthday cheque on these. So if you see anyone swanning around in Cheshire in them, I'll have outed myself. Maybe I'll turn up at the "works Xmas party" in them...

6. My beloved P is living it up in the Big Apple right now. I almost went with him but I couldn't really give up that many working days. I made the mistake of waking him at 5am this morning, because I miscalculated the time difference. Oops.

7. I had a good laugh at this today, which someone kindly posted on a professional forum I belong to. I'm not the person who made the corrections, but it gives a pretty good idea of the kind of stuff I edit most days...

8. I was one of many this week who rushed out to buy the latest issue of Computer Shopper, because they were giving away a free CD-rom of Quark Xpress 5. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as shoving it in the drive and installing it. It involves endless hassle opening an account on Quark's website, which is now crashing due to demand and leaving us all very pissed off... Felix Denis, take note - if you're going to give away software at least make it ready to use.

9. My Xmas shopping is almost done. Thank gawd because I'm almost sick of Xmas already and there's still 24 days to go. Including 13 and a half working days...

10. It's Friday night, my work is done for the week and I'm going to pour myself a large one...

29 November 2006

Bang up to date

My copy is filed at last - hurrah! I thought I would never finish it at times. I still need to chase permissions for a couple of pics, though.

I've bagged a well-paying, regular gig copy-editing a financial newsletter - a trip to London looms to meet the team in two weeks time. Need to maximise the visit by fixing up other appointments.

Almost everything else is up to date, bar a little work on my accounts and paying in a couple of cheques.

No work booked in today - but I do have a dental check-up to attend. Then I shall enjoy my day off.

My beloved P has gone away for 5 whole days - he was off at 6am and I won't see him until Monday mid-morning. :(

26 November 2006

Broken back

I've finally broken the back of the 3,500-word feature I'm writing. In the end, it was the looming deadline that forced me to stop procrastinating and buckle down. I perform better under pressure anyway. I have just some 250 words to scrawl now, to finish it up then I can submit it.

It's been a busy day - my beloved P has been struck down by a gastric bug so I've been administering cups of tea to him throughout, while talking to friends and family on the phone, dealing with another email backlog and clearing paperwork. I'm not a fan of working on Sundays - this is usually the one day a week I spend quality time with P, going for long walks, talking, having fun... but with him looking grey and flopped out on the sofa, I thought I might as well crack on. I don't intend to make a habit of it, though.

One of the joys of freelancing is that you can work odd hours, as and when, but generally I try to keep to "office hours" as much as possible so that I'm in synch with P, else we'd never spend any time together. So today was a one-off and is unlikely to be repeated for a very long time...

24 November 2006

End of the working week

It's been an odd sort of week. I spent most of Monday untangling my accounts, which was desperately overdue. When it gets busy it only takes a moment to type up an invoice and keep a copy aside, thinking "I'll file it into the books when I have a spare moment". Before you know it, there's a massive pile of receipts and invoices to enter and several bank statements to reconcile. Not my favourite job. In the middle of all that, my accountant let me know she's about to file my tax return. I was relieved to discover I won't be taxed twice on my foreign divorce settlement.

In between, I chased some pics for a feature I'm writing, did some copywriting for a regular client and spent hours posting daft haikus on a listserv I belong to. Hardly constructive - just procrastination because I'm stuck with the feature. I need to get my skates on as the deadline is looming.

And I've been chasing a regular gig editing a financial newsletter on foreign stocks. I hope this one comes off as regular work is always good. And finance is my speciality.

Wednesday evening saw me in the pub meeting a few local contacts with a view to setting up a local alternative news site. This idea has been tossed around for some time but now it looks increasingly viable, with a small team starting to form. I doubt it'll earn any money, not for a while anyway, but I really want to do it.

As the week draws to a close, I'm already starting to look ahead to 2007 and think about goals. More clients and more money are the obvious ones, but what else? I'm thinking hard about career direction, where I want to take the business...

20 November 2006

A night out with arms dealers

Not literally.

I just spent a very pleasant evening at the local theatre watching Mark Thomas deliver a corking live show. He's been immersed in all sorts of shenanigans, posing as an arms dealer in order to expose their invidious trade. And he wrote a very funny book about his experiences, and now he's most of the way through a live tour talking about it (his experiences, not the book, although I'm sure he's chuffed if he sells a few more at the end of the night). But don't take my word for it - go and see him. Or buy the book.

Mind you, I'm biased. We were at uni together. But he's still very funny. And very passionate.

The rest of the day was searingly dull by comparison. I did my accounts.

16 November 2006

Pointless waste of an evening

I don't know why I bothered going out last night. I was tired and grouchy after slaving over the keyboard all day, then there was a mad rush to get glammed up and call a cab. The cabbie decided to take the scenic route, so there was a dispute over the fare (which I won). It was raining and I got drenched in the dash from cab to door. Inside, I was offered a glass of Buck's Fizz, which was more buck than fizz, given that there was definitely barely more than a teaspoon of champagne in the flute. Not a good start.

I headed upstairs. I felt overdressed - the dress code had said smart so I'd scrubbed up. I don't know why I bothered, given that most of the others there were looking distinctly casual. There were a lot of waiters hovering, but none with refills. I checked the seating plan to locate my table then chatted a while to a couple of women - one of whom is also a writer and just starting as a freelance.

We were asked to take our seats for dinner so I headed off to my table only to discover I had no place. I checked all the name cards twice. Nope, definitely not on my table. I went back across the room to check the board again. I was definitely supposed to be at that table. So I went and checked a third time. The table was now full and I definitely did not have an allocated place. I spent 10 minutes locating one of the organisers to ask where the hell I was supposed to be sitting, and was then told that I was on a different table because the seating plan had been changed to "improve the networking". Great, thanks for letting me know. If you're going to change the seating plan, at least put the correct one on display...

Things went from bad to worse. The other occupants at my table were mostly in groups together, so they spent the evening talking only to each other. So much for networking. The chairs were hideously uncomfortable, so my back started aching before long and as much as I shifted around I just could not sit without being in pain. Everything was running late. There were some very dull speeches while we waited for food to arrive (including one in which the speaker claimed that everyone in the room must know Ms X, who is apparently a local mover and shaker but I'd never even heard of her). The first course arrived 50 minutes late and we were offered only one meagre glass of wine the entire evening. We were supposed to buy more drinks at the overpriced bar, but no one had said this - you were left to work it out for yourself. More speeches, more lengthy waits for food...

The evening was supposed to finish at 10.30pm, but at that point we'd only just had dessert. I'd been there 4 hours and there were still more speeches to come. I'd had enough.

I nipped downstairs for a smoke, rang for a cab and went home. I doubt anyone missed me. My beloved P was waiting for me when I got back. As always, he lifted my mood and after a brandy each and a chat, I felt a lot happier. That's the last time I fork out hard-earned cash for a disappointing do.

15 November 2006

Off out to dinner

I've worked my socks off since the end of last week, copy-editing a PhD thesis. It took longer than expected and my arms, shoulders and legs ache from being sat in a chair for 3 whole days.

I'm behind with everything else, unsurprisingly.

I'm going out to a posh networking dinner tonight at the racecourse, for a bit of R and R. By the time I get home, my beloved P will be back from his trip away and probably asleep in bed. I last saw him at 5.45 am yesterday, which means I'm unlikely to see him again until I wake up tomorrow.

Then I'll be playing catch-up - with him and the neglected work pile...

13 November 2006

Overdue recognition

The Guardian published a column today by Kim Fletcher, who praises the sub-editors who dig journalists out of deep holes. You can read it here.

I used to work as a staff sub-editor on several consumer mags. The pressure is horrendous and you are expected to produce perfect pages with tip-top accuracy against outrageous deadlines. The accuracy is not a problem for the likes of myself and others dedicated to the craft of maintaining quality English. But I've lost count of the number of times I've saved a hack's skin because what they submitted was, well, shite, to be honest. As Fletcher says, journalists win awards for stuff they have had published that without the sub's intervention would have been unreadable.

Just today, I saw on a listserv I subscribe to a request for advice from a wannabe about becoming a feature writer. His post was littered with typos, including a comment that maybe he should take a "different tact". Yeah, well...

I've always maintained that a bad writer will always be a bad writer. If you seriously want to be a good writer, it helps to be able to spell and know how to punctuate properly. And having a grasp of good grammar wouldn't go amiss either.

Fletcher goes on to remark that papers are finding it difficult to recruit sub-editors these days. I'm not surprised. The pay is lousy, with starting levels at around £15k, meaning that no one except school-leavers and graduates could possibly be interested. You can't survive on that sort of money, let alone pay a mortage and feed a family. And today's school-leavers and graduates are of the generation that were not taught grammar in school and wouldn't have a clue how to edit. Let's face it, those of us who do know have all gone freelance. If the press wants to boost recruitment into what is a highly skilled job, they need to raise starting pay levels to a minimum £25k pa, and offer training as well.

Otherwise, the industry will continue to bleed existing talent and fail to unearth new.

09 November 2006

Forgot to mention

I also cooked dinner, emptied and refilled the dishwasher and put a load of laundry in the machine because the cleaner is here tomorrow and I want the ironing done.

I sound bitter in my last post. I'm not. I'm just tired and overwhelmed. And I missed The Archers and not even a dose of The State Within followed by EastEnders on BBC3 has lifted my mood.

Is it really less than a month since we came back from our holiday? It feels like a lifetime.

Just when I thought...

...it couldn't possibly get any busier, I'm being bombarded with demands on my time.

I spent Wednesday in London, at an editorial summit for a magazine I write and commission for. Armed with my new laptop, I installed Open Office (for free) so I could work on stuff while on the train. The night before my trip, I received 100,000 words of PhD thesis to edit, so I copied it on to the laptop smug in the knowledge that Virgin Pendolinos provide sockets to plug portables into. Yes, I was going to work on the train. And work I did. Except that I quickly discovered that Open Office doesn't offer a Track Changes facility as standard and - guess what? - I'd promised my client I'd use Track Changes... Sigh. I did what I could and it made the journey go faster, but I had to spend 2 hours today going over the edit because OO is not fully compatible with Word and of course, I can't charge for that time.

Despite such problems, the summit went well and I also made some useful contacts at the meeting place. Came home tired but chirpy.

Woke up at 4am, sweating profusely and having nightmares about spam emails. Got up, brewed tea, did sudoku, caught up on the email backlog. After showering, I resumed work on the PhD thesis and juggled constant interruptions. I found out that my beloved P had failed to tell me the night before of the messages on the answering machine - one of my regular clients was trying to get in touch to book editorial time. That dealt with, I went to play back the missed messages. One from a marketing agency that wants to hire me as a sub-contractor - I think not. My lovely graphic designer did work for them last year and had a struggle getting paid. I haven't called the agency back yet - let them sweat. One from a charity I'm trying to source pics from for a feature - I rang back but no answer. Will try again tomorrow.

Email then arrived from an ex-client I was convinced had dumped me after I had a dispute with our mutual contact. But apparently not - he's sent me a case study to edit. A phone call would have been good, to ask when I could do it. Sigh again - will call tomorrow to sort it out. A local freelance emailed asking for advice on rates - that was dealt with quickly enough, but some thanks for my input would have been appreciated. Ditto the writer who found me on MySpace asking about two-deck headlines. Sometimes I feel like Marje Proops - everyone wants my time but no one ever says thanks.

On top of that, my scientific client finally resurfaced after yet another AWOL break to give me the data I need so I need to squeeze in time first thing to finish that job. Thankfully, it won't take long. I have outstanding invoices to send, clients to chase and even though I've had a large drink I feel pulled in all directions. I need a PA. Fast.

God knows how I'll finish the PhD thesis on deadline. And I still have half a long feature to write.

Take my advice. Don't ever become a freelance.

07 November 2006


My previous-but-one entry has vanished! It was there earlier, but disappeared into the ether after I posted the last one a few minutes ago.

Gone. Forever. And fat chance of retrieving it...


I received interesting mail on Saturday - an offer to become a preferred supplier for a client I'd just done my first job for. A contract was enclosed. I had a quick glance at it then tossed it to one side.

As a freelance, I write my own contracts for most clients (not all, there are a favoured few that I trust not to mess me around and pay on time). It's part of working for oneself - the right to pick and choose clients and set your own terms and conditions.

I asked my beloved P to cast his professional eye over the contract I was offered. In short, it said (and I quote P): "You, personally, have to be available to do work for XXX all the time on our terms, i.e. you waive your own T&Cs. If you are not going to be available you have to tell us in advance, or you will become liable for any losses we incur. If we have a dispute then you are not allowed to keep any papers you may need to prove your side of the case."

I was stunned, because I hadn't read any of the contract and could scarcely believe I would be expected to work under such draconian conditions (possibly even Dickensian). It was the closest said client could get to employing me, without actually employing me.

I did a bit of asking around among others who have worked for this client. Quite a few thought I was overreacting. In the end, I rang the client yesterday to talk it over and pointed out the various problems with the wording. The client agreed that some of it was ambiguous and is now going to come up with a tailormade contract for me. Although I'm still deciding whether or not I want to work regularly for them or not.

I've had a pleasant 24 hours writing about wines and firing off invoices. My laptop is recharging and I'm preparing for a day out in The Smoke - coffee, cake, work chat and shopping...

31 October 2006

Eerily quiet

I check my website stats daily. It usually generates hits in the double figures every day, even at weekends. But no one visited over the weekend and I had only 1 sole page hit yesterday. One visitor has been today and looked at 2 pages. This is the quietest my website has ever been. Very odd.

I spent most of yesterday editing articles I've commissioned for a magazine. I'm still waiting for the short story to arrive and I have a lot of writing to do for my big feature. I started slogging away on it yestereday afternoon. I'd hoped for an easy ride, having emailed interview questions to my subject across the pond. Most of what came back was web links to other sites so now I'm having to do the research as well. Very slow going. Bah.

27 October 2006

10 things

1. I've run out of stamps but it's raining too hard to go to the Post Office. Luckily I only need to post one letter today and I had one stamp left.

2. My missing client actually answered the phone today and progress on phase 2 of the project is resuming forthwith.

3. I've done a quote for the wine copy job. It won't make a fortune but it will be fun.

4. Someone on a networking forum kindly suggested me as a good person to write a press release. I didn't jump in and offer my services as I really need some time next week to catch up on my journalism commissions. Just as well - when I looked again at the thread a little later, I discovered the person in need works for one of those ghastly companies that writes essays for students. And as you all know, I don't approve of plagiarism.

5. I'm seriously debating resigning from a listserv for journalists I subscribe to - it's getting increasingly tedious on there and I regret adding my opinion to a debate on blogging. I got jumped on because people failed to read my post properly. Pah.

6. I'm also planning not to renew my subscriptions to the local Chamber of Commerce and a regional networking group I joined as they are not value for money.

7. I finally turned on the central heating in my office - it's too cold to sit here now without heat, even with a fleece on. I wish I was still in Crete.

8. I installed Firefox 2 yesterday - it's looking good so far except some of my extensions no longer work. Still better than the appalling IE though... FF2 loads pages faster and is way more secure.

9. The book on polyamory I proofread a few weeks ago is selling well. I enjoyed listening to the author on BBC local radio two days ago - she came across really eloquently and had the strongest arguments of the panel.

10. It's Friday, which means pre-Hallowe'en drinks with my beloved P at a friend's tonight and tomorrow I have a birthday party to look forward to.

26 October 2006

Uni corn

The postie delivered a gem from the local university this morning - I got a letter asking if I'd be willing to offer a work placement to a student. I wish these "work-based learning managers" - as they call themselves - would do their research properly. Then they would have twigged that I'm a sole trader, working from home. I have no liability insurance for students (or even clients) that enter my workplace (aka spare reception room that functions as my office). There's no room in here for a student and I certainly don't have any work going here for them. Unless they want to sit and watch me type all day, interspersed with breaks for coffee, rummages through a dictionary and a spot of surfing. I can't imagine that it would be either exciting or teach them anything.

The boss of said student placement unit lives just a few doors away from me in my street, is a friend and runs a very good local business networking group that I attend. So her staff had no excuse for not checking me out first - a simple phone call would have sufficed, in which I could have told them in less than 30 seconds why I'm not a suitable candidate for their programme.

The writer of the letter also got my job title wrong (editorial manager? Does she think I run a publishing company?) AND my address! Gah.

I'm quite amused that students these days have someone paid to find work placements on their behalf. When I was doing my BA, I had to find my own placement then get my tutor to approve it. Does no one have any initiative any more?

25 October 2006

Easy money

I've just earned a very handsome sum for proofreading a website belonging (sort of) to one of the powers that be. The downside was, it was deadly dull and needed a lot of concentration. But in two days I've earned what I normally earn in a week, so no complaints there. I could do with more jobs like that. So I asked the client - nicely - to consider me for future projects. I'm sure he will - he seems pretty chuffed with me so far.

My missing client has finally resurfaced so I'll be calling him first thing tomorrow so we can pick up the project again. I just haven't had time today. Tomorrow I'll also be working my way through my "to do" list again, which has grown alarmingly over the last week. It's nice to be in demand, but there never seems to be enough time to be all things to all people. I'm hideously aware that my friends are being neglected again, although I did just fire off a quick congratulatory email to a Russian friend living in Paris, who has just dropped her second sprog. I just need some time to pop over for a long weekend, bearing toys...

24 October 2006

Wasting time successfully

I've managed to waste most of the day today, simply by not working very much. After last night's excessively alcoholic birthday celebrations, I woke up at 4.30 feeling dehydrated and restless, head spinning with work-related nonsense. I gave up trying to fall asleep again and got up to brew tea. I surfed the net a bit, played some daft games and answered some emails. At 8am, I decided to shower and start work. Once upstairs, however, the lure of my mattress was too strong to resist and I went back to bed. Up again at 11, I staggered downstairs to discover my sister trying to Skype me so I chatted to her briefly then resolved to work.

Alas, I'd barely put the phone down when it rang again - this time, it was a mate I haven't spoken to in ages, so that was another 2 hours written off. Then I surfed the net again, answered some more emails (trivial ones). Then the phone rang a third time. This call was from a marketing guy who wants to subcontract copywriting work to me, so we had a quick chat, agreed prices and conditions and hung up on each other, both content with the arrangement.

Cue phone call number 4 - an importer who desperately needs his website sorting out. We had a lengthy chat about his business and wine (he imports exclusive wines) and I agreed to price up the work for him. I want this job because it will be really interesting and I might even get to sample the goods, which would be a bonus. That was another hour gone.

By then, it was late afternoon and I still hadn't actually done any work. I really wasn't in the mood by now, it was too late and tomorrow I'm facing a massive catch-up and a tight deadline. I'll make it by the skin of my teeth.

I blame the Armagnac I had before bedtime last night. Proof that excessive alcohol consumption is bad for business...

23 October 2006

Birthday / grindstone

I reached the grand age of 45 today. Never thought I'd get here and still can't quite believe I have. Luckily, I look 10 years younger and am not in need of Botox and bathchair just yet...

My beloved P bought me a laptop and gorgeous green leather bag to keep it in. And books and chocolate and a mini-mouse for the laptop. I also got an olive tree (really!), a large cheque from the parental, more chocolate (are people trying to tell me something?), and masses of bling, amongst other things. Last night we dined at a friend's and were treated to an amazing home-cooked Jamaican meal. Tonight P is taking me to a posh restaurant. Yeah I know the website's crap, but the food definitely isn't.

But enough of my birthday.

I've been hard at it for most of the day, proofreading an immensely complicated website (with no site map) online and noting errors on an Excel spreadsheet. Not a task for the faint-hearted - it requires immense concentration so I don't lose track of where I am on the site. And I've had to test every single link, of which there are many. And of which many are broken. Grr. Still. I'm a third of the way through the 150-odd pages, so I'm likely to beat the deadline.

Work's a drag when I'd rather be out having fun, but needs must when you're a freelance...

19 October 2006

My skive off work

I blagged a disabled discount on my ticket to North Wales by charming the bloke on the counter and explaining it was all the fault of the postal service and saved myself 4 quid. One-nil to me. :)

I arrived at my destination to get showered with early birthday presents. My darling sister had baked me my favourite cake (which I'm not allowed to cut until Monday) and the parental insisted I open her gift there and then (the main pressie is a cheque, but I'll open that on Monday). I guessed it was bling - inside the bag was a show-stopping necklace. I never knew she had such amazing taste and that she could actually pick something I'd love. Usually, I end up giving her presents to Oxfam...

Lunch went ok, better than expected. Especially when the sun came out halfway through, after a hideously rainy morning. I caught the train home in a mellow mood, flicking through a magazine and taking occasional breaks to get the necklace out and admire it.

I got home to the reality of nearly 100 emails - a hazard when you belong to several professional listservs. I was able to delete almost all of it, fortunately. And my lovely graphic designer rang in my absence to let me know he'd made me a banner to put on a couple of websites. I just need to call him back and thank him, then wait for the bill to arrive.

I quite enjoyed my skive, and don't feel the slightest bit guilty, despite just having had a fantastic holiday. I've got masses of work lined up for tomorrow, and the whole of next week will be taken up with the editing job I've just bagged. So my bank manager will be happy anyway.

Cringing at the podcast

Ha! The guy that interviewed me for the podcast mailed me the edited version for my approval. It made me cringe - I thought I sounded like Janet Street-Porter on drugs. But I at least sounded coherent and intelligent and fluent, so that's ok. I played it to my beloved P later - he said I sounded more Estuarine than usual (Estuarine? Me, a Sussex girl?) but explained that's because Skype compresses the voice to squeeze it into the bandwidth and the higher pitches get lost. Result - my voice drops a semi-tone.

It'll be broadcast next week and I get a nice plug on the download page as well, which will hopefully bring in more clients.

I wrote a reply to someone on a networking forum about DIY press releases. I said hire a pro, but if you must do it yourself watch out for the pitfalls. I then scrawled around 500 words on how to do a decent press release. I had some great feedback, including from a contact in marketing, who said he'd been sending press releases for years and my post was the best, most comprehensive and concise summary he'd ever seen. And the site owner reposted it as an article. Pity I won't get paid for it, but hopefully it'll help a few people.

I'm cancelling work today - the parental is the vicinity and I'm obliged to do my filial duty and have lunch. I now face an hour's train ride each way at full fare because the bloody Royal Mail failed to deliver the renewal form for my disabled railcard to the correct address in time and by the time I got it, my previous card had already run out. The new one is only valid from tomorrow. Lunch with the parental will mean the loss of 6 hours' working time - she'd better appreciate my sacrifice because she has yet to grasp that being freelance and working from home does not mean it's not a proper job. I'm only available anyway because my major copywriting project is on hold and I'm filling in with other jobs that allow some flexibility. If I was still working as an employee she wouldn't see me at all.

18 October 2006

Interviews are like buses...

...you wait forever then 3 come along at once.

I've just done my first-ever podcast for an online business networking group I use. Regular readers will know I'm a big fan of networking when it comes to finding clients for the copywriting side of my work.

This particular group also holds real-time meetings, although not in my neck of the woods. Alas, I'm far too far north.

The podcasts are interviews with various members about their businesses and experiences of networking. I got Skyped by the interviewer and chatted for 10 minutes, unprepared, about what I do and how I find clients. Now I'm waiting for the edited version - minus the ums and ahs - to be sent to me for my approval. Then it will be uploaded onto the net. Apparently, the podcast site in question is getting a lot of hits - several thousand downloads a month. I'm new to the podcasting lark - I don't own an MP3 player and don't download music from the net - but I thought I'd give it a go.

I'm still waiting for the 2nd interview to take place - the journo in question is still doing his research so I have to wait for him to get back to me.

I've been busy copywriting a website today connected to the networking group. I myself have been interviewing - staff members, so I can write up their profiles. One was very nervous about talking about himself, the other was a joy to talk to - very funny and self-assured and gave me lots of great soundbites. And I've just won a very lucrative contract as well for a major editorial job, so all in all, it's been a good day.

17 October 2006

Normal life resumes

The holiday is well and truly over. I've caught up with my email backlog and mound of post. And today I got stuck into paid work again. A client I'm copywriting for at present has gone AWOL - mails and calls not being returned. My lovely graphic designer has the same problem. We are stuck. No going forward with the project until the client gets in touch.

In the interim, I've taken on some short fill-in jobs - a bit of web copywriting for a business consultancy, ditto for a web designer. No sense sitting around not earning money while waiting for absent clients.

It's been a time for being centre of attention - two journalists have contacted me in the last few days wanting to interview me about stuff I'm involved with (or was - one of the enquiries goes back 19 years to when I worked on a listings mag in Yorkshire). I was interviewed by Radio 4 about the latter - I must dig out the cassette I made from the broadcast at the time. I'm sure I still have it somewhere.

I thought about blogging for the History Matters project today, but decided not to. It's supposed to be about blogging your most average day. Trouble is, I never have an average day. Today is no exception.

13 October 2006

The Backlash non-blog

Huge apologies!

I was having such a good time on my holiday that I totally forgot to blog for Backlash on Monday 9 October!

I did blog in advance though, so I suppose that counts. I'm just horribly embarrassed that I decided to commit to doing it then didn't.

I've just had a peep at the Backlash blog page though - it's great to see how many people made the effort to air their views. I gather a huge number of people have viewed the Backlash page. I was rather startled to see this blog listed on there as I hadn't notified Backlash, but it does explain the massive peak of hits I had on Monday...

The Tourist of Doom strikes again

Not long after I got together with my beloved P, he nicknamed me the Tourist of Doom. I seem to have a propensity for flying into places and leaving a trail of death and destruction in my wake.

For example:

I flew into San Francisco on 10 September 2001, and the next day the WTC was attacked by terrorists.

I went to Barcelona for a weekend with P in spring 2004 and the Madrid train bombers struck.

I spent a weekend in France, flying in through Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris in 2004. On the return trip, Terminal 2 collapsed (we were flying out of Terminal 3).

While I was still living in the Netherlands, I went to Amsterdam for a weekend and stayed in a hotel with P. We went out for a walk and on our return to the hotel discovered white crime-scene tape cordoning off the square, cops everywhere, SOCO teams and two dead bodies in an abandoned cab... Turned out there was a local turf war between Bulgarian drug dealers.

These are just a few examples.

Our week in Crete proved no exception - 3 days into our holiday the curse struck again and northern Greece had its worst-ever flash floods.

Honestly, you couldn't make this up! One day countries will pay me NOT to go on holiday.

It looks like Santorini has been spared though. On the last full day of our holiday, we took a boat trip there as it's not far from Crete. The volcano has been dormant for fifty years although it occasionally emits a few puffs of smoke. An eruption is long overdue... All was quiet though and the most dangerous thing that happened was me taking a muleback ride down the cliffs to the caldera - I'm still saddle-sore.

Edited to add: just minutes after our plane took off for home, an earthquake struck off the south coast of Crete...

12 October 2006


Well, the Wordsmith has just returned from a much-needed holiday in Crete. It was good to get away but not without problems. Having decided to take my new laptop so I could catch up on emails while away, it was disappointing to arrive and discover our hotel's wifi was temporarily out of action. I had to resort to standing on my balcony and piggybacking someone else's unsecured wifi to log in.

Typically, things kicked off in my absence - I was offered a very lucrative, but sadly urgent, job proofreading a multimedia project. I had to turn that down, as obviously I wasn't planning on spending my holiday working. That's why it's a holiday, right? Never mind, I'm sure they'll keep me in mind for future jobs. A journalism student also mailed me to ask for an interview about one of my projects - I've agreed to that and will be doing a phone interview tomorrow. And I was pleased to see that some of the features I've commissioned are coming in on time. However, my big-name catch is not ready to commit yet and wants to meet me first (in November!). So it looks like if it comes off, this person will be writing for the spring issue rather than the winter one.

Upon my return, I ploughed through several hundred emails. Most were from lists I subscribe to, but others definitely needed attention. I've worked through most of them. The rest will keep until tomorrow. As will some of the highlights of my holiday...

03 October 2006

Sleepless nights

I'm not sleeping well. I go to bed at a sensible time and have no trouble dropping off but then I wake at stupid o'clock and spend a couple of hours tossing and turning before giving up, getting up and brewing up.

Insomnia is not new to me - it's troubled me on and off for many years. The latest bout is down to stress. I feel like I'm juggling too many balls. Yesterday, one of my clients went AWOL and didn't return my calls or voicemails. So I couldn't get on with the job in hand - very frustrating. I used the downtime to catch up on other stuff - I drafted a proposal cum quote for a client, ticked off a few things on my "to do" list, comforted my best friend when she discovered she's probably lost her job and squeezed in an urgent spot of editing for a Dutch client at short notice.

One thing I no longer have to worry about is the housework. Our new Monsieur Mopp is a real find. He's amazingly efficient and I can work in peace while he's here, knowing I will not be interrupted by needless chitchat.

On the work front, I am booked up until at least the end of this month with copywriting gigs. Probably November too. Ideally, I'd like to cut back on the copywriting but practically I can't as it brings in good money. In a perfect world, I would only edit and write features. Right now, I'm commissioning too which is a bit of a headache. It's been a while since I last did any commissioning for publication and I'd forgotten how stressful it can be - finding the right people to craft the right article, then staying on their back until they hand it over, preferably well before deadline.

At least we have a holiday coming up shortly, which we are both looking forward to. I could do with some sunshine and relaxation. My beloved P is not happy that he will have to work during our break though. So the laptop is travelling with us, but we'll try to keep interruptions to a minimum.

30 September 2006

PC world

Note the lower-case w.

This is not about a well-known chain of computer stores. I'm talking about Wordsmith HQ.

I have a PC on my desk. Next to my desk is my beloved P's desk, on which sits his own PC. Scattered around the house are at least 4 other PCs of varying ages and ability, mostly in P's workshop where he tinkers with electronics for amusement.

Then there is P's laptop, which belongs to the company he works for and goes everywhere with him.

Total 7.

Today, P bought another laptop, having spotted a very new Dell for sale for £199.99 in one of those not-quite-a-pawnbroker shops in town. We had a quick discussion about whether to buy it or not and decided it would be worth acquiring - we can take it on holiday to check on emails, for example, and if I'm on one of my occasional business trips to London, I can do at least 5 hours' work on the train while travelling. So it was back to the shop to check it out and make sure it's working properly - it is and it has XP Pro on it, plus MS Office and a firewall. P bargained the shopkeeper down to £150. A quick trip to Maplin to buy a wifi card was next. As I type, P's installing the wifi and then we'll have PC no. 8 on the go.

I've postponed buying a Mac laptop for the time being, but I know I'll have to splash out next year. That'll bring the total to 9.

Is that excessive for 2 people? Probably. But then we don't have a car. At least we're not polluting the planet.

And now I can buy one of these... in purple!

29 September 2006

Blogging for Backlash

On Monday 9 October, I will be Blogging For Backlash.

Backlash is coordinating the campaign to stop the government's crazy proposal to ban the possession of sexually explicit images that depict or appear to depict sexual violence. Such a move would criminalise thousands of ordinary people who could be prosecuted for taking and thus possessing pictures of their own consensual sexual activities when the activities themselves are not illegal. Their punishment will be up to 3 years in jail and having to sign the sex offenders' register for life.

I am opposed to this legislation as it erodes people's civil liberties, violates their human rights and is yet another example of this government taking a prurient snoop into people's private lives and deciding what's best for them.

If you are also concerned about the effect this law could have on you or others, then get Blogging for Backlash on 9 October! All you have to do is blog about the campaign then let the Backlash blog know - all the blogs will be collected and gathered and the master blog will be promoted to the media.

28 September 2006

What's in a name?

Reporter Linda Jones has blogged about identity. An interesting debate. Is a writer a journalist, a reporter, a hack or, well, just a writer? Her comment on the latter was" don't get me started!" As if somehow being a writer is something to sneer at.

Well, get this - I'm a writer. And proud of it. It best describes what I do. I've never been a reporter as I've never covered "news". I call myself a hack as a joke, and a journalist when it's convenient, because some people find that easier to understand - if I tell them I'm a writer they might think I'm a novelist, which I'm not (although maybe one day...)

But writer best describes what I do because not everything I write is for the press. I write a lot for businesses. I write for myself. And I write for publications. It's not to be sneered at - I earn a very reasonable living from it.

I hate it when people start creating hierarchies and distinctions, as if one is better than another. Or worse.

What does it matter anyway?

Wild nights

Amazing how what you eat can have such a powerful effect on the brain.

Yesterday evening, I grilled a couple of rib-eye steaks for myself and my beloved P, and served them with some roast cauliflower. Neither of us is a huge fan of cauliflower and I doubt we'd buy it, except that we get an organic veg box delivered regularly. And the last box contained a golden cauli of a beautiful shade of yellow. Roasting makes cauliflower edible (and tasty), so I chopped away a few florets that were developing tiny black spores of mould and drizzled the rest with olive oil, crushed garlic, lemon juice and some black pepper and stuck it in the oven for 25 minutes (at 220C if you plan to try this at home).

I slept badly. I had bizarre, intense and vivid dreams and kept waking feeling disturbed. I was also overheating and drenched in sweat. I finally got up at around 5.45 am, feeling unrested and hungover, even though I'd had only 3 small glasses of wine the night before.

P was already up and reported an identical experience. The scientist in him declared that we'd probably consumed some microscopic mould spores, and that these can have a powerful neurological effect.

Probably true but I still feel lousy - disjointed and disoriented. Somehow, I've managed to complete the book, but now I'm going back to bed to try and sleep off the rest of the symptoms.

Work will have to wait.

27 September 2006

More good things (and huzzahs)

The end of the hedge funds books is in sight at last. Less than two chapters to go (and one of those is only three pages). I will be done by mid-morning tomorrow at the latest (huzzah!) and can sign it off with a clear conscience.

The science company in Merseyside that my beloved P has been pitching me to contacted him by email today to say that I am just what they're looking for (double huzzah!) - I can expect the call any day now. I promised P I'd take him out for dinner at a restaurant of his choice when I get the contract. I let my lovely graphic designer know the latest so he'll be chuffed too.

A copywriting contact I know of only through a business networking website rang me for a chat today to offer me work. And I had an email from the owner of another business networking site I use offering me work too. Only a smallish job, but more in the pipeline probably. Triple huzzah!

Our relief cleaner agreed to work for us on a regular basis. Deal agreed on a handshake. Very good news.

I did some pro bono pitching for a colleague of mine who has written a book - basically contacting a few journalists to drum up some interest in the project. Looking good so far.

My darling cat went missing for a few hours earlier in the day (not good - in fact very worrying) - I was so relieved when I found him shut in the walk-in wardrobe in our bedroom. A small mistake by the cleaner, who's been asked to be careful in the future. It wasn't really his fault - my baby is very good at sneaking into places unseen where's he's not allowed to go.

I'm still behind on a few things, but am rapidly reducing the size of my "to do" list. By this time next week, I'll be packing for my much-needed holiday and heading off to Crete to sip Metaxa and sun myself. I must say, I've earned this.

26 September 2006

10 things

1. Very annoying members of forums who insist they know far more than I ever could on a given topic, even though they don't and I'd already suggested we agree to differ.

2. A client rings minutes before I dash out to finally get my hair cut. Sorry if I was abrupt, but you weren't to know I was in a hurry and I will do what you asked!

3. I have only 7 chapters of the book left, but 2 are very long and I know they will be riddled with problems.

4. My best friend bakes the best bread ever - I had great toast this morning.

5. My back and legs ache after being hunched over a keyboard all day.

6. My hairdresser is also self-employed, so we can have a good bitchfest about the highs and lows of freelancing while he snips my locks and I drink his coffee.

7. I smoke too much when under pressure.

8. My accountant tells me that even if I file my tax return online before 30 September, only employers get the £100 financial incentive. Gah!

9. Why do people in Brazil and Japan spend hours browsing my website when they clearly have no intention of hiring me?

10. My beloved P came home tonight with 800 cigarettes and a bad back after a night away. I'm glad to see him again.

25 September 2006

The rough and the smooth

I thoroughly enjoyed doing the copywriting today for the Baltic travel company. Unsurprisingly, I probably haven't made much profit on it as I agreed a fixed project fee and, of course, it took longer than expected. No matter, I'll bear that in mind next time they hire me. The job was a very welcome diversion - I had free rein to be very creative with the blurbs so it was good fun and has even tempted me to take a holiday there!

I had to start at 7am though, because of the two-hour time difference. I just had a lovely email from the client saying how I'd impressed everyone in the office with my copy (even the boss, who is apparently difficult to please). I've been offered more work, which is a good thing.

Alas, travel copy done and dusted I had to return my attention to the hedge funds book. It took me 6 hours to edit just 33 pages - the quality of the English in this particular chapter was a nightmare. I hope it goes faster tomorrow. I still have 15 chapters in hand...

My best friend turned up in the middle for coffee and a natter - another welcome diversion.

I'm finished for today now - my beloved P is away overnight on business, so I shall indulge myself with EastEnders and a takeaway later this evening.

24 September 2006

Books etc...

I've spent a very pleasant morning catching up with a whole week's worth of episodes of The Archers. (Yesterday, I was browsing in Oxfam and bought a mint copy of Lynda Snell's Heritage of Ambridge and, while paying, had an entertaining conversation with the till person, who turned out to be an addict herself.)

I used the time spent listening to events in Ambridge to email an overdue invoice to a client, write a book review of Professional Feature Writing for Editing Matters, mail a couple of friends and my accountant and accept an invitation to LinkedIn. I was delighted to discover that quite a few people I know are already using LinkedIn, so I'm building a nice little network on there that will, I hope, lead to work. Never one to miss an opportunity, me...

Actually, I've found networking to be the single most useful tool so far for finding work, proving that that old adage about it being who you know is very true. It shouldn't have to be like that, and of course it often isn't, but networking has been very beneficial for me since I turned freelance.

The sun is finally shining again after a hefty storm this morning and I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with my beloved P - there's not been enough of that lately.

23 September 2006

Weekend but no let-up

It's been a crazy week.

I've been hard at it on the hedge funds book. Only 15 chapters to go, thank whoever. The client who wanted a press release on Thursday postponed, for which I was heartily grateful. And I did a chunk of the travel copywriting for the Lithuanian client. On top of that, my magazine ed rang to discuss commissions - he's decided to hand one of his own commissionees over to me so I can coordinate several articles on a theme. Great... more work when I'm still trying to find the time to deal with the people I've commissioned myself.So that's two writers I need to chase, a set of interview questions I need to draft and email to my victims, I mean interviewees, another writer I need to let down gently and yet another I still need to get hold of and ask ever so nicely to produce 4,000 words. Never mind, it'll all get squeezed in. I've also promised a book review by the end of this weekend and I've barely opened the tome - I'll just have to wing it. My fault entirely - the book's been sitting on top of my bookshelf for three months...

The cleaning problem has been solved - our relief char is a professional and very good too. When I paid up yesterday, he offered us a reduced hourly rate if we employed him regularly. I had a chat with the beloved P about this when he came home and we agreed it was a great idea to hire him on a regular basis. No more faffing around trying out people who turn out to be more trouble than they are worth. Wordsmith HQ will be spotless once again. And on a regular basis. It's a massive relief as the stress of trying to keep the household running at the most basic level while dealing with one of my busiest-ever work periods was starting to show.

My beloved P was a star yesterday. Not only did he bring home baklava for Rosh Hashanah (because we didn't have any apples and honey), but he also brought home the possibility of a huge work contract for me and my lovely graphic designer. I've been trying to persuade P for months to get his own company to employ me but they already have their own people to do what I do. So that was never going to materialise. But the spin-off company does need help, and soon. New website, new promo materials, press releases, the lot. And they have a massive budget. P has put our names forward and talked us up to the company. So I rang my LGD to tell him what might be in the pipeline. He was very excited about the possibility of us sharing a major new client. Fingers crossed the company picks up the phone next week. If they do, I'll be opening the Bolly...

The postie brought mail from the hospital, bearing a date for my follow-up appointment. I have to change it - I'll be on the plane to Heraklion for a much-needed holiday when I'm supposed to be having the test.

I fancy some retail therapy today - it's been weeks since I had the time to stroll round the shops. But first, I must book the haircut I should have had 3 months ago...

21 September 2006

Ploughing through

I'm halfway through the hedge funds book and taking a small break. All the chapters have been received from the commissioning ed now and I'm on schedule to complete the work by the end of next week. In between, I need to squeeze in some time to do a few small copywriting jobs for a Lithuanian client. This is the same company that rejected my pitch a couple of months ago to rewrite their web copy. Never mind, I have some work in the bag from them and it will make a refreshing change from financial markets.

Somehow, I have also managed to volunteer myself to investigate creating a wiki for SfEP. God knows how I will find the time - I'm struggling to keep up as it is. I have work booked in up to the end of October, we are still minus a cleaner (although the relief cleaner is due tomorrow), I'm rushing around trying to at least keep Wordsmith HQ tidy (two loads of laundry already done today, with a third on its way), I'm in the middle of commissioning features for a magazine I've just started working for, I still need to write an invoice for a client (due a week ago, the shame!) and even as I type I've just received an email from someone who found me on a freelance database asking if I'd contribute articles of health and fitness for a new online magazine. I was interested until I scrolled down to the end and discovered they expect me to work for free. Pah! Do they think all freelance hacks are married to sugar daddies and write for fun? I think not...

And my books are three months behind... that's half a day's work, but I don't have the time. I need the life-management fairy to sort everything out.

And I missed the Manchester bloggers gathering last night, after all that (sorry peeps!). I was too knackered and I had a huge zit on my face after all the, um, socialising at the conference. So I decided to stay home.

Perhaps I should invest my meagre savings in hedge funds, make my fortune and hire a chauffeur/beautician/housekeeper...

20 September 2006

Party girl

Note to self: must give liver a rest.

After larging it at the conference on Monday night, I swore I would not drink anything last night when I got home. Hack habits die hard and I had two glasses of wine and no dinner as I sifted through the inevitable mountain of emails awaiting my return.

Another 11 chapters of the book arrived in my absence, as did two offers of work - one from an existing client and one from a new client. I have no idea how urgent either of them are. The book takes priority, of course and I must do a reasonable chunk of it today. But I'll squeeze in a few minutes to respond to the requests and see if I can find a few hours to take the work on. I had two mails from contacts wanting to pick my brains about work-related matters and an offer to take Snake off our hands at last (my beloved P owns a constrictor and we need to find a new home for her). Another client has sent masses of files for my next copywriting job for them - there will be no time today to deal with that apart from an acknowledgement that the stuff arrived.

I'm off to Manchester this evening to meet some localish fellow bloggers and journalists. Good for me, less good for the liver. And on a worse note, the relief postman delivered my renewal form for my disabled railcard to the wrong address a few weeks ago and so I've only just reapplied for the card. The old one expired yesterday, which means I'll have to pay full fare to go to Manchester this evening. Grrr!

Life is full at present - plenty of work, plenty of socialising and networking, an excellent conference the last couple of days which has given me lots of ideas. The only thing lacking is time. And we still don't have a cleaner. Nature abhors a vacuum,and so do I. I also abhor Dysons so a replacement char becomes ever more urgent...

19 September 2006

Home again

Tired and travel-worn, but it's good to be back at Wordsmith HQ. Had a great time at the conference.

Full blog tomorrow...

15 September 2006

Respite in sight

I'm about 2/5ths of the way through the hedge funds book. And tearing my hair out. I'm sick of Franglais, sick of Excel files with embedded text that I can't edit and sick of not having the time to do anything else. I haven't read a newspaper all week, for example. I still haven't booked a haircut and it's been about 5 months since I had a trim. I haven't had time to advertise for a new cleaner. I still need to invoice a client and email a couple of others, which I should have done last Tuesday. And I'm going away this weekend, which means tomorrow is already fully booked with a hospital appointment (yes, really!), shopping for shower gel and other dull chores.

Anyway, Sunday I'll be setting off for the wilds of Nottingham so I can participate in the SfEP Annual Conference. I'm looking forward to mixing it with my colleagues for a few days and having a break from that book.

Adios until I return...

13 September 2006

Brain porridge

I spent 9 hours today editing a mere 40 pages of the hedge funds book. Plus about 20 figures in Excel - the last one alone took me more than 2 hours. The grey cells feel fried. Never mind, the pay cheque will be worth it.

All I wanted to do this evening was eat (because I forgot about food all day and did the usual hack thing of running on nicotine and caffeine) and watch TV. The beloved P rustled up a mean fillet steak and chips for me, washed down with some vin rouge. Alas, the TV was a desert, nothing I wanted to watch (ain't that always the case?). Dragon's Den has finished. :(

All that networking paid off, though - I remembered meeting a French guy who runs a local cleaning business, so I booked him to restore some order to Wordsmith HQ until we can find a regular (cheaper) Mrs Mopp, to replace the one that quit. He arrived promptly at 9am and 8 hours later, the house was sparkling and the ironing was done. Bliss.

Am off to crawl into bed with a book - currently reading this. It's surprisingly good. Despite the gripping prose, I am likely to fall asleep with it in my hand and the light on...

12 September 2006


It's quite shocking, the number of people who think what I do for a living is glamorous. It's not. A lot of the time it's boring and tedious, as regular readers will be aware. Granted, I'm turning into a grumpy old woman and I'm still a long way off 50. So I moan frequently about my job. But even my mother thinks what I do is glamorous and neither of my parents wanted me to become a writer. In fact, they actively tried to prevent me becoming one.

At school, my talent was obvious and when I had to choose my O Level subjects I wanted to do secretarial studies. Not because I wanted to be a secretary but because I wanted to learn to type and do shorthand so I could become a reporter. And I figured if times were hard, I could always temp in an office with those skills under my belt. My father had other ideas - I was good at French so he decided I should study it at university and become a translator in Brussels (it was still the EEC back then). I must have been a terrible disappointment - I couldn't think of anything worse than being a translator in Brussels. I was forced to study geography instead of secretarial skills.

So I quit school at 16 and wrote for punk fanzines and started slogging on a local listings magazine. The money was rubbish, I couldn't type (I'm still a one-fingered typist) and I never became a reporter. Probably not a bad thing - a chief sub-editor I used to work for told me of his horror the day he had to doorstep a bereaved parent, to discover she was the mother of a good friend who'd been killed in a motorbike smash.

Lack of parental support for my chosen career meant it was a hand-to-mouth existence for a long time. I lacked confidence in my skills and was jealous of Julie Burchill - just a couple of years older than me and she'd blagged a job at the NME, hanging out with the bands I loved and getting paid well for it. The bitch! Actually, I love la Burchill, she's amazingly talented even when annoying as hell.

But I digress. I scraped a living for years in my chosen profession, writing here, editing there, dabbling in corporate communications when needs must. Then I decamped abroad for a long time, again scratching around in my career. It was only when circumstances forced me back to the UK (that and my beloved P) that I realised - actually I'm pretty damn good at what I do! My confidence restored, I turned freelance but let me disabuse you, it ain't glamorous. Yes, I earn good money when the work is there (but there are plenty of slack periods) but the downside is dealing with bad clients who are unsure what they want and are difficult to deal with. To make ends meet I edit books and copywrite for businesses because freelance journalism is tough and dirty even when you're not a reporter.

So I grump and moan, but I love what I do. Hell, if I wasn't doing this I'd be unemployable. I have no other skills or talent. I sing like a strangled cat on acid, I can barely add past 10 unless I take my socks off and I'll never be rich and famous (unless someone buys this blog and turns it into a book).

Glamour? Even Burchill would concur it's not a glamorous way to earn a living. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

That sinking feeling

More book chapters keep arriving - 10 so far. I made the mistake of emailing back to ask how many are still to come. I wish I'd never asked - there are 48 in total. I feel utterly depressed. At this rate, I'll still be working on this at Xmas.

A few ticks

1. Rang my graphic designer - meeting is being rescheduled for very soon. Phew!

2. Emailed Accessorise about the tights.

3. Had quick chat with my trainee editor - I should get the work back Thursday, on schedule and in time to give it the once-over before I return it to the client.

4. Cancelled the PR bash in Manchester.

I have a little list...

My back problems sent me to bed in severe pain last night, after sitting on trains and ergonomically unsuitable chairs all day yesterday. The 4-inch heels didn't help. My feet still ache today and I'm glad to be back in jeans and trainers. Despite 8 hours sleep, I feel exhausted and I'm struggling to catch up with the email backlog.

I need to be very focused today - my task list is pretty long:

1. Put new ad in the shop window for a reliable cleaner who isn't prone to strops. En route, collect rest of prescription waiting at the chemist for me and drop into the hairdresser to book a long-overdue cut.

2. Ring my lovely graphic designer to find out why the meeting with our client was cancelled.

3. Ring my trainee editor and find out how the sub-contracted work is going.

4. Rebook a place at local networking meeting in Chester on Thursday, now that I've decided not to go to the PR bash in Manchester. Tell the PR person at the French Tourist Board that I'm cancelling on her. And apologise profusely.

5. Send email to Accessorise to let them know their tights are overpriced crap.

6. Start contacting a few people I want to commission for my new magazine job.

7. Write my next column for a local Chester magazine (unpaid). My first one has just been published and should bring some work in. Cheaper than advertising and mail shots.

8. Start chapter 3 of the hedge funds book.

9. Fall into bed still exhausted...

11 September 2006

Tights, trains and tension

Last night, I suddenly realised that today is 11 September. And I was off to London first thing in the morning. I got very twitchy at the thought of bombs possibly going off in the capital on the 5th anniversary of the WTC being attacked. I set off just after dawn, promising the beloved P that I wouldn't use public transport today, only cabs.

As I had a meeting in the City with a potential client, I had to look the part despite London being predicted to enjoy 30C. That meant a skirt and tights. I hadn't even got on the train at Chester before the tights had a large and very visible hole just above the knee. Damn - brand new and £7. I resolved to buy a new pair and change them in the cab on the way to my first meeting.

Alas, on my arrival in London the queue for cabs was about 200 people long. Blast - there I was with a brand new pair of £8 tights I'd just bought in a shop at Euston and no chance of getting changed. I had to brave the tube if I was going to get to my meeting on my time. There were cops everywhere with guns and the Northern Line was an inferno. I arrived in the City 10 minutes late and still with a visible hole in my tights. I was edgy as hell on the tube, checking out all the passengers, but clearly I am still alive.

An hour later, I emerged from meeting No. 1 with a lucrative copywriting job more or less in the bag. I hailed a cab and headed off to Covent Garden for meeting no. 2. I was early so I ordered coffee and nipped into the ladies to change the laddered tights. Managed to put my fist through the top of them while pulling them up - not even on for 10 seconds and I'd already wrecked them. At least the new hole wasn't visible. Meeting no. 2 went very well - I have bagged a nice journalism job on a quarterly magazine as contributing editor.

With time to spare before my last meeting, I wandered round the shops in Covent Garden for half an hour before finding the designated pub. Spent a very pleasant 90 minutes catching up with a very old journalist pal (in the sense of a very old friendship, my pal isn't that old!). We talked about the intervening years and some mutual friends who have died young, far too young.

Finally, it was time to head home. Cab again, couldn't face the tube. Arrived back at Euston, sat down in my seat and ripped hole no. 3 in tights no. 2. And people wonder why I usually wear jeans...

I got as far as Crewe - one last stretch and I'd be home. Except that there was a 15 minute delay as they had to put a new engine on the train and it was still in bloody Stafford. Fifteen minutes turned into 40 and I finally came home to my beloved P far later than expected only to find the new cleaner has quit because I asked her last week not to dry the saucepans with the hand towel and not to interrupt me while I'm working. Sheesh! If I wasn't working I'd be doing the cleaning myself and she wouldn't have had a job at all. You can't get the staff these days.

And I had 68 emails waiting in my inbox. I haven't seen the news all day and I'm dog tired.

Tomorrow's meeting with another client has been cancelled. Oh well, it'll give me time to catch up on the cleaning and editing the book...

08 September 2006


I resolved to start editing the hedge funds book today. But first, I had to finish a pro bono release for Backlash and get a pot of tea inside me. That done, I had to deal with a cleaner giving me the runaround and get some invoices in the post. I didn't have the time to actually catch up on the book-keeping though.

Just before I decided to buckle down to the finer points of investment banking, a regular client rang to offer me some work. I didn't want to turn the client down, as he's a good one, but I also didn't have the capacity to handle the work. I took the sensible option - I said yes and sub-contracted the job to a trainee editor I am mentoring. I have every confidence in her ability and the job is straightforward anyway.

That out of the way, I gritted my teeth and got stuck in.

Reader, I won't bore you with the details of franglais. Suffice to say that after five hours, I was ready for my pub date with some local foodie forumites that I hang out with online. I wasn't nervous, even though we'd never met before, because I felt I already know them. We had a splendid evening drinking Stoly and eating Thai food. I came home with a smile on my face, which grew even bigger when I opened the email from a recent client - he's given me a corking testimonial.

I plan a lazy weekend - a family visit, friends round in the evening, quality time with my beloved P.

Trying not to think of Monday's 5am start for my day trip to London. Alas, not pleasure, but business.

07 September 2006

Ghastly day

A row broke out over the last 24 hours on a professional forum I belong to - basically someone decided to flood the listserv with trivia and managed to annoy a lot of people. I was waiting yesterday for the MS to arrive so naturally every time I saw my mail icon flashing I had to download my mails. My heart sank every time I saw yet another trivia mail come in. Eventually, this morning, I lost my rag and ticked the offender off in public for clogging up the forum - did that stop this person? No. They carried on posting to try and justify their actions. Not even an official warning from the moderator was enough to stop the flood. And then, the perpetrator started mailing me offlist to carry on whining. I tore a strip off him in return and told him to stop bothering me. Finally, radio silence prevailed.

I narrowly missed out on a commission to do a monthly newsletter for a financial services firm. I don't offer design work as I believe that's best left to those who can design and the job has gone to someone can both write and design. Fair enough. I have enough on my plate now anyway.

The MS has finally arrived. More on hedge funds - I might have guessed... I haven't started it yet because the last page of copy needed to be done for another client and then I had to proofread the whole website. It took twice as long as expected as their server kept crashing.

I urgently need to do some book-keeping. I'd planned to do it this afternoon but there's no time now so I'll have to do it first thing tomorrow, which means delaying the start of the MS. Which is so late now anyway, it hardly matters.

In the middle of all that, my lovely graphic designer rang to say our mutual client wants a long meeting early next week to plan more stuff. How on earth I'm going to fit that in when I have the hedge funds book to contend with I do not know. I have business trips coming up, further depleting my available hours and a short holiday in October. This is all going to need very careful juggling.

And tonight I have to do a pro-bono press release for the Backlash campaign, which is urgent and can't wait.

I am shattered and stressed and all I want to do is open a bottle and watch EastEnders...

05 September 2006

Frustration again

I'm still waiting for that wretched MS to arrive. Just how late can a book be?

In the meantime, I'm using my time productively. I'm off to London next week on a business trip, so I busied myself booking my train ticket and setting up my meetings. I've arranged to see a financial publisher, from whom I hope to get some work in the future. I was lined up for a project with them a couple of weeks ago which has been cancelled, but I hope a face-to-face visit will secure other things later on. I'm also seeing a magazine publisher for whom I expect to be writing features and commissioning others. And I'm seeing a very old pal of mine who I've known since I was 17 (yikes, that's nearly 30 years!). We'll be going for a pint together before I get the train home.

If there's time, I might even squeeze in some shopping...

01 September 2006

Poles apart

No sooner had I uploaded my last blog entry than the Pole mailed me back to say I was too expensive! I didn't know whether to feel relieved or affronted. Both really.

Relieved because it now means I won 't have to work over the weekend to earn what would be quite a paltry sum really.

Affronted because students seem to think that they shouldn't have to pay the going rate for a professional service from a skilled and experienced editor. Now, I'm well aware that students are generally quite hard up. But this one is a post-grad and probably working while she completes her studies. I held down two jobs while doing my degree and I was on a full student grant. (Yes, it was that long ago that you could still get a grant rather than a loan.)

I offered this particular student a very competitive price and she mailed me back saying she only had expected to pay around half what I'd quoted. I'd already told her my hourly rate before I did the quote so she clearly had expected me to work at twice the speed possible to do a proper job.

Given she has a deadline on Tuesday, she'll be hard pushed to find anyone competent at short notice. And even harder pushed to find anyone competent at short notice who is prepared to work for what she is willing to pay.

If she comes back to me in desperation, I'll be turning her down.

Ray of sunshine

The August monsoon has finally dried up and the sun is out at last. It was even warm enough to go out for 10 minutes without a jacket or umbrella.

Against all expectation, the Pole skyped me about the dissertation that needs proofreading. She sent me a sample text so I could price it and I have agreed to take it on.

I must be mad - I've got a 350-page MS arriving any time soon. But I've been kicking my heels all week because it's late and, being summer, it's been slack workwise. Normally, a job arriving late doesn't bother me as usually other work comes in at short notice to fill the gap. Not this week. So I thought I might as well earn something.

Owt's better than nowt, as they say oop here...

31 August 2006

Like a coiled spring

The MS still hasn't arrived. I'm drumming my heels in frustration because I'd cleared this week and next to work on it. Instead, I've been mooching around the house - frustrated and bored. Unusually, I've had no quick-turnaround jobs come in that would have filled the time and earned me some money. I've had several offers of work for next week though, which I've had to turn down.

One was from a Pole wanting a thesis proofread over the weekend. I replied with some probing questions as I was unsure if I wanted to take it on. Needless to say, I've heard nothing back. That's the kind of client that annoys me more than any other bar late payers - the ones that contact you and ask if you can do xyz. You respond in detail and it vanishes into cyberspace. Forever. These things are a waste of my time but I can't ignore a request because it makes me look unprofessional if I do. An email saying thanks but no thanks takes only a minute to write and at least I know then if a job's not going to transpire. No one has any manners though, these days.

On top of that, I'm dealing with a family crisis, which is taking its toll on me - I managed just three hours' sleep last night and have been feeling wrecked all day. Probably just as well the MS isn't here - I'd have done a poor job on it.

Roll on bedtime...

29 August 2006

A victory for common sense

The commissioning ed at the financial publisher just agreed to pay my requested fee, same as before. I didn't even have to argue my case on the phone. Must have been my persuasive email last Friday...

I must admit to relief, given that I was prepared to turn down a very large job on a principle. But I doubt any of the eds there will be trying to pull a stunt like that on me again.

I'm fed up with penny-pinching publishing companies run by accountants who expect skilled professionals to do a great job for peanuts. Editors and proofreaders make books readable and that costs money - if publishers want to sell quality products they can't expect to skimp on the nuts and bolts. Especially when they are paying the Wayne Rooneys half a million a pop to mumble a few words into a ghostwriter's tape recorder.

Rates are falling for journalists too.

If we want to earn what we are worth, we have to stand up for ourselves. I did, and it paid off.

(wanders off to open a bottle of Bolly)

Tweaking the techy stuff

My new website is almost ready to go live. My two lovely graphic designers rang up this morning to let me see the work in progress. Since then, it's been a constant flurry of phone calls and back-and-forth emails to put the finishing touches to it. A couple of final tweaks and it should be on the net tonight. Fingers crossed.

It looks fab. I owe pints of Guinness as well as the bill.

What? You want to see it? I'm sure you can find it with a simple search on Google...

25 August 2006

Well, that's my weekend ruined

I just received an email from the financial publisher regarding the manuscript I'm supposed to receive next Tuesday. I am totally pissed off. Firstly, the book will be sent to me later than expected - that's ok, authors are notoriously bad at submitting their MSS late to the commissioning ed. And I'm flexible enough to accommodate such things.

What has angered me is the money issue. I specialise in substantive editing - that's more than just a standard cleaning up of spelling, grammar and punctuation because it usually involves a lot of rewriting. I also specialise in editing English written by non-native speakers. Again, that entails masses of rewriting - untangling bizarre metaphors, weird grammatical constructions and just generally making sense of what is often a mess. And I specialise in investment banking as a subject. I'm a rare breed in that respect - there are very few editors out there who have the knowledge to handle these kind of texts, as I'm frequently told by commissioning eds in search of someone who knows what they are doing.

My fees reflect these specialisms and are not excessive - they fall in line with the minimum recommended rates set by the NUJ and the SfEP for this kind of work. For the two previous books I worked on for this publisher, I agreed to work at a lower rate than I normally charge. When I was offered this latest job, I asked the commissioning ed to confirm I would be paid the same rate as before - today she said the company normally pays just £18 an hour for copy-editing and they had already paid me above that for the earlier jobs. Worse, she said that because of the current cost estimates for this particular project, it would not be feasible to pay me the same as before!

This is a company that charges at least £200 cover price for its books...

I emailed back, politely pointing out that they are paying for my three specialisms and I had already agreed to a lower rate than I normally charge. Expecting me to accept an even lower fee for an even bigger project than the last one is completely unacceptable. I could have pointed out that this company's upper freelance rate of £18 an hour is less even than the recommended minimum for bog-standard copy-editing but I refrained. But she is asking me to take a pay cut for a major job and I'm just not willing. I invited her to call me on Tuesday to discuss it.

I suspect I've just talked myself out of a job and that they'll end up hiring someone cheaper just to save a few quid, but they won't get anything like as good a job done, if they choose that option.

Grah! I'm totally pissed off. Sorry for saying it twice, but I'm totally pissed off. Ooops, that's three times... But I'm sure you can understand why.

Over and out

After a brain-wrenching morning, I finally finished writing the copy for my new website and handed it over to my lovely graphic designers (yes, there are two of them now).

Writing one's own copy is the worst job imaginable. Doing it for others is easy, but it's nigh on impossible to write objectively about yourself or your business. Last night, I seriously contemplated hiring another copywriter to do my home page. My beloved P was still home with a bad back today, so I got him to look over my draft as I'd really reached the stage where I just couldn't see what was wrong with it. I just knew it wasn't right. P was able to spot the problem almost immediately. I was so grateful I brewed him a cuppa then got on with writing the last paragraph. A few minutes adding some meta keywords to complete the list and all was ready.


Despite it being the last Friday of the month, I couldn't face doing the books. I'm now three weeks behind. Looks like the Bank Holiday will be occupied with paperwork...

24 August 2006

E by gum...

I've just been invited to be profiled in an ebook about professional writers.

I duly did an interview by email, whizzed a pic over and Robert's my dad's brother...

There's other fingers in pies, but I'm not simple Simon so I'm saying nowt yet...

23 August 2006

No beans today

I took the day off today. I was utterly sick of copywriting for days on end and I signed my latest project off yesterday so it was time for Wordsmith time, even though I'm behind on writing the copy for my own website mark 2. I'd already arranged to take my nephew out to lunch - I've been a bad aunty this year to him. Last time I saw him was at Xmas and much has happened since then in the Wordsmith clan.

While I was planning the trip, I arranged to meet another copywriter I've been talking to with a view to exchanging work overspill. That fell through at the last minute so I asked the head word boffin of Connect Media North West if he fancied meeting for coffee while I was in Manchester. We duly fixed a time and a place and managed spectacularly to fail to hook up, despite being less than 5 metres away from each other! Duh... that'll teach both of us not to swap moby numbers in advance. My beloved P was home sick today, so I was frantically ringing home to see if Mr CMNW had mailed me in my absence. He hadn't, so I finished my coffee and sudoku puzzle (free with the crappy daily someone had thoughtfully left on the train for me) after waiting a reasonable amount of time then I went for a walk round Manc Central before my lunch date with my nephew.

Aunty duties duly fulfilled, I caught the train back home to Wordsmith HQ. No thanks to the bastards who vandalised the train I should have caught, by bricking the windows, and forcing me to go the long way home via rural Cheshire...

Now frantically catching up on mountains of emails and the news. Have earned nowt today. The only beans that went anywhere near me were of the ground Java variety.

21 August 2006

Wannabes part 3

A colleague of mine received the following email today (errors intact):

Me and my partner are currently in the process of starting up our business offering a proof-reading service directly too students. We have our own web-site being developed and are finalising the last touches of our marketing campaign.
However we are still looking for experienced proof-readers who can provide a service and work on a free lance basis. Basically what will happen is we get an email off a student asking for a piece of their work to be proof-read. We then forward it on too the specialised proof-reader (possibly you) who reads the work and emails it back.

We would appreciate it if you could email me back too let me know if your interested in working for us on this freelance basis. We currently have 15 retired lecturers, professional proof-readers and phd students who have agreed too work for us and hope you will aswell?

If you agree i would also appreciate it if you could possibly proof-read a test piece of work we have developed to check if your upto standard. A cv and a bit about yourself would also be useful so we can develop a unique profile on our website for you.

We look foward too hearing from you!

Kind Regards

What can one say? I sighed yet again. These idiots are taking the bread from the mouths of people with years of experience. People who have trained hard and slogged the slog. And these upstarts think they can just start up a business with no knowledge and have the cheek to ask skilled proofreaders to do the work for them while they take their cut. They can't even frigging spell their letter of solicitation.

A very grouchy Wordsmith...

18 August 2006


Those nice people at the financial publishing company have just booked in a whopper of a tome to be edited by me. It's by the same author as last time and about twice as long. So that's me booked solid for two whole weeks minimum from August Bank Holiday. Followed by a big, fat cheque.

This has turned out to be a very good week for me, all things considered. Time to down tools and pour an aperitif...

The editor's prayer

Grant me the serenity to accept the things the author refuses to let me change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference between the two.

Childish but oh so satisfying

It's clearly been my week for postal gems.

Yesterday I received a questionnaire from the local Tories asking for my opinion on the Glass Slug. They are opposed to it, as are 98% of Chester residents. Including me. So I filled in the form, ticking the yes box in agreement that the proposed building is hideously ugly and that the council is ignoring people's feelings on the matter.

There was a space at the bottom for further comments, so I duly told them that my agreement with their views in no way constituted permission for them to canvass me at election time and that I'd never forgiven the Tories for what they did while last in government. Then I popped it in the reply-paid envelope and sent it back to them...

Ah, bless...

The postie delivered a letter this morning addressed to the "Human Resources Manager" of my business. That's me. My other titles are Boss and Staff. I guessed correctly before opening that it would be a job application. Speculative, of course. And asking if there are any vacancies at my "company".

Sadly, I'm not big enough to be a company. I'm a sole trader working in half a room in the beloved P's property.

The application was good - well written and all that - but it would have been better if it hadn't been sent at all because the applicant had done her research properly.

Now I'm going to have compose an email to break the news gently...

17 August 2006

Domestic help...

... is a mainstay of Chateau Wordsmith. Our previous cleaner quit a few weeks back after 5 years of service - we were sorry to see her go as she was so damn good at keeping the chaos at bay and doing the ironing. She left following a health scare and a carpe diem revelation so we totally understood why she wanted to live for the moment. She is a good friend too and we still see her for coffee.

Our new cleaner has been here a month. She's pretty good, but no matter how often I tell her not to disturb me while I'm working she keeps popping her head round the door of my office to chat. It's driving me nuts. I was interrupted twice this morning for trivial reasons after I'd specifically said no interruptions for any reason except emergencies. I was deep into proofreading the polyamory book, which needed a lot of concentration. Especially as I was marking up corrections in PDF format, which I'm still getting used to - I've had Acrobat for a year or so, but don't use it very often for mark-ups so it's a learning curve.

I finally managed to convince the cleaner to wait until I took a break, but I can see I'm going to have to have a "little chat" with her tomorrow.

Anyway, the proofreading is done and has been returned already. I've caught up with The Archers again and now I need to start invoicing clients.

And some good news. My sister passed her Hebrew A Level this morning at B grade! It might not seem that important in the great scheme of things but those close to me and mine know what a massive achievement this is for her under extremely difficult circumstances. I am so proud of her.