31 December 2007

2007 - my year in review

I have blogged 128 times this year, which is about right - a nice average of twice a week. I doubled my workload, compared with that of 2006, which is a Good Thing (although it meant I had to pay more tax, which is a Bad Thing).

I had vowed at the start of the year to cut back on copy-editing for SMEs - it doesn't pay well on the whole and repeat work is unusual - and only take on bigger clients, should such opportunities present themselves. Looking back, I can see that I did indeed manage to do less of that, while gaining a number of more-lucrative advertorial jobs. I also picked up some excellent editing jobs. And a real turkey.

In return for cutting down on the copywriting, I had resolved to do more freelance journalism. Over the last few years, I've done the occasional piece here and there (picking up the threads of a career that had flourished in my youth) but I decided to make a determined breakthrough in 2007, with the support and encouragement of several much-admired and esteemed freelance hack colleagues. And thus I saw my first pieces appear in the national press (with another due out next week), and in various women's and consumer magazines. I also took on a monthly contract for an overseas paper (see Client No. 2) that I cancelled after 4 months because they failed to pay me on time every month and I got fed up chasing the money. Some jobs are not worth it. I didn't sell quite as many articles as I'd have liked but I'm certainly not complaining! Onwards and upwards...

What else, what else? Oh yes, I went boozing and schmoozing with the Journobiz crowd in July (but failed to make the Xmas do), I attended the annual SfEP conference for the third year in a row and I failed to go to the gym as often as I should. Must try harder in 2008 (to go to the gym and do more schmoozing...).

This blog has also done quite well this year. I've been quoted a fair few times on other blogs (and blogrolled, boosting my Technorati rating) and even guested on other blogs. I have plans for 2008 for this blog...

Things were also happening outside the domestic domain of Wordsmith Towers. Alan Johnston was kidnapped and then released. I doubt there was a hack alive in this country who wasn't praying (literally or metaphorically) that he would survive intact. And it was a joy to watch his documentary in the autumn and see this bright, gentle man had indeed come through his ordeal more or less unscathed.

The Facebook revolution sucked up every freelance hack I know, including me, and a few freelance editors. And led to me quitting a forum later in the year.

The media developed an irritating new trend - that of the tribute to a victim. This scenario involves someone dying (naturally), often horribly, to be followed by the family being interviewed and paying "tribute" to the dead person, who is often someone so young you wonder what there is to pay tribute about. Don't get me wrong, it's always terrible when someone dies in tragic circumstances, but it's not news when a teenage mum pays public tribute to her deceased 1-year-old boy, it's just column filler. I think I preferred it when people grieved privately.

The Americans occasionally did us proud too. First, Mika Brzezinski won a round of applause for burning her news script and refusing to lead on Paris Hilton's tedious jail saga. Second, Harlan Ellison had a splendid rant about paying writers. Cue another round of applause. (Actually, looking back, getting paid on time or even at all was a regular issue I raised - it really is all about the money when you freelance.)

Back in the UK, the NUJ organised a Stand Up for Journalism Day, but I still dithered over rejoining. Maybe in 2008...

And, er, that's about it, really. Today I wrote about 700 words of a 1,000-word feature that I need to file by Wednesday and pottered around answering a few emails. That's it for 2007. I'm off to put my feet up and after a nice supper and a dose of EastEnders, I shall be heading out to greet the year to come...

See you all in 2008!

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