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...