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...