Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Change of tack?

I think I under-estimated just how time consuming toddlers can be, hence the shameless blog-neglect. 

And I also wasn't sure that I had a focus for this blog. Was it going to be about freelancing? About parenting? About everything in my life in general? I wasn't really sure. 

I think, from now on,  it's going to be about preparing for baby number two whilst trying to fit freelancing around baby number one.  

I'm seven weeks pregnant, and more exhausted than I ever thought possible. At least first time round I could wing it at work and then laze around on the sofa all weekend. Not this time ...

Wish me luck!    

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Do it. NOW! And don't stop till it's done.

The above is my new mantra (until I forget, natch). 

I'm getting absolutely naff all done at the minute, because I'm trying to do too much at once. We're all familiar with the cliche that women are great at multi-tasking, but I am normal two-armed woman and not an eight-armed goddess. 

Yesterday I found myself attempting to scan my daughter's nursery art file before returning it, fill in the attached evaluation form, hoover the digital camera (not as weird as it sounds: the lens was stuck and I read on the internet that this might fix it.  It did fix that particular fault, but simultaneously broke it in a whole new way. So, swings and roundabouts...) and complete a proofreading assignment.   

I did none of these things especially well and pissed myself right off for being so disorganized into the bargain. 

So, from now on, one thing at a time. Do it till it's finished. Do not wander off and start checking facebook on your phone while checking the news on teletext and folding laundry. 

One thing. Start it, finish it. Move on to the next thing.

(this will never work...) 

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


I tend to be somewhat solitary by nature, and being a WAHM limits my social interaction even more.

But this week I've reminded myself how nice it is to connect with the wider world.  

  • I've joined British Mummy Bloggers, and I'm like a kid in a sweet shop (or a swot in a library, to be more accurate). So much to read, so many groups to join. This is going to cut into my working time in a big way, I can tell...
  • And today I had another lunch with my local SfEP branch. Yet again, I was amazed by the generosity of everyone there ~ so willing to volunteer tips and share information.

It can be hard to get 'out there' sometimes, but necessary; it's good to get new perspectives and remember that being a lone she-wolf doesn't have to mean being a lonely she-wolf.  

Friday, 17 September 2010

Time flies like an arrow...

...Fruit flies like a banana :)

Seriously, how is it two months since I last posted? 

I have A LOT to say, because I have learned A LOT recently, a (happy) side-effect of the tribulations of trying to set up a business whilst looking after a toddler. Each lesson is a blog post in itself, so I'll not 'blah' it all out here.  

But, following on from my last post, in which I signed off with a(joking) aside about possibly not getting paid, I err, didn't get paid, not until I had sent LOTS of emails, increasing in bile and righteous indignation.

To add insult to injury, each email was ignored.  

Ignored, until I threatened to report them to their course supervisor, head of department, university chancellor and current employer (hint: you can run but you can't hide. Not when you have an extremely unusual name). 

And then: Oh, you gave me the wrong account number (I didn't). Oh, I can't get to the bank today. Or tomorrow. Oh, I went to the bank but they said they couldn't do a transfer.Oh, I have to wait until I next get paid. Oh, all of my fingers fell off so I couldn't write your account number on the paying-in slip...

I did get paid, after a lot of to-ing and shoo-ing, I got my money. I should have charged for time wasted chasing the payment, and lost interest, but I didn't. 

Lessons learned:

1)  If you cannot pay the agreed fee, for whatever reason, get in touch sooner rather than later. This saves them sitting stewing over the hard work they put in on your behalf, and saves the situation turning nasty. Be honest, and try to sort out an amicable arrangement.

2) Regard your first contact with someone as a barometer for the continued relationship. This client was highly disorganized, and late in submitting their work to me for correction (resulting in me working till 4:30 am to help them meet their deadline. Great fun when my daughter chose to start the next day at 6:30 am). No surprise, then, that they were equally flighty when it came to payment.   

3) Time spent chasing payment eats into your hourly rate something rotten. By the time I was eventually paid I probably made less than minimum wage, given all the chaser emails and time spent sleuthing online to track them down.

Still, I'm a wiser freelance for it...  


Monday, 12 July 2010

Drum roll pleeeeease........

I've just completed my first freelance job!

Yes, it was a complete surprise to me too.

On something of a ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ whim I responded to a SfEPLine message regarding someone who was looking for help with a dissertation. Not proofreading per se, but general improvement of writing style, academic presentation, and so forth.

I emailed ~ far too late to get the gig, I assumed (thank you, dear daughter, for refusing to go to sleep and knocking my work schedule off kilter last week).

But I got the job!

(Maybe I was the only one to pitch for it…)

It was a ‘race against time’ scenario ~ the poor flustered student was frantically typing up sections and emailing them to me at the eleventh hour. But I stuck my nose to the grindstone, for a shade short of nine hours. And I finished at 4a.m. this morning. Got to sleep at 5:50 a.m. (damn you, whirring brain). Dear daughter was up for the day at 7:30a.m. So, I’m a wee bit manic today. But I am pleased, very pleased.

Now, when people ask what I do and give me that funny ‘Really?!’ face when I tell them, I can proudly reply that I’ve already had my first paying job, thank you very much.

That’s assuming I get paid for it, of course. But that’s a whole other blog post, and one I’m sure many freelances will be able to relate to.

Monday, 21 June 2010


The vast majority of things I (we?) worry about do not come to pass. Never once have I discovered, on checking for the twenty-seventh time, that it turns out I did leave the gas on, the back door unlocked, the iron plugged in.

And, of course, the SfEP lunch was not the trial by fire that I had feared it might be, but an extremely pleasant afternoon with a group of warm, witty people who were more than happy to share their experiences and offer practical advice. I was particularly interested to hear about the SfEP mentoring scheme ~ sounds like the perfect bridge between hypothetical training exercises and 'real life' proofreading work. A lovely lunch, a rare baby-free half-day for me (the first ever, no less) and lots of lovely motivation. Can't wait for the next one.

Here's hoping that the current over-riding fear in my life ~ baby G's first sessions at Montessori nursery ~ aren't as awful as I'm anticipating they'll be....

Monday, 14 June 2010

A moment (or several hours) of doubt...

I remember, with absolute clarity, the precise moment I knew I would not be going back to my previous job.

It was a February morning, I was in the shower and - as clearly as a bell ringing - I heard my own voice in my head: 'I'm not going back'. And I knew immediately that I had made the right decision.

I'd come about my previous job by accident rather than design, and I'd wanted to leave for years. Not going back, post-maternity leave, was considerably easier than handing in my notice and working out a period of leave. Not going back requires much less courage than getting up and walking away.

I still know that I'm making the right decision. But sometimes I have days like today. Days when my inner voice rambles inside my head in sheer panic: 'I'll never find any work. There's a recession on, half the country has lost their jobs, no-one will give me work because I've got no experience and then I'll never get any experience so I'll never get any work. We're going to starve. I'm going to end up working nights in a bar after the baby is asleep. I'm going to have to beg for my old job back, tail betwen my legs. Who am I to think I can have what I want? I'll never make this work because I've never made anything work...'

Tomorrow I have my first meeting with my local branch of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. I'm nervous, of course. Meeting a largeish group of people I don't know is going to be daunting, especially as I haven't had a non-baby related conversation in a looooong time. Plus I'll be leaving baby with my husband for the day, and since I've never left her for more than an occassional hour here and there this is scary for me.

But more than that, I'm scared that when I ask them for tips on how to get started in the industry they'll tell me that I'm wasting my time, that there's barely enough work to go round as it it is, it's not what you know it's who you know, and so forth. In short, I'm scared in case they suggest, however obliquely, that I'm probably going to fail.