Time for a new hat?

In a few weeks’ time I will be leading a seminar at the 25th Annual SfEP Conference entitled: ‘Time for a new hat? Expanding your business into consultancy, training and other publishing services’. But this post isn’t about that. (I’m keeping the details … erm … under my hat.) Instead, here’s a quick catch-up on recent events that have had a significant impact on my editing life.

Let’s start with the good news: I’ve been very busy with work. I have been lucky to secure several month-long contracts for interesting work with a good client; I have maintained contact with and carried out small on-going projects for other long-standing clients; and I have completed a couple of small projects for new clients too.

I want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to all of those clients for the great support they have given me in recent months.

Thanks too, to the editors, proofreaders, project managers and journalists around the world who I know through the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), Twitter and various Facebook forums.

To those of you who think ‘networking’ is just about boosting your bottom line; think again. Without this great support network – for work-related queries as well as water-cooler chat and solid practical help and advice – I would certainly have struggled even more in recent months.

The hat I’d had my eye on

For a number of years I have been an active member of the SfEP, most recently writing a popular SfEP guide, Pricing a Project: How to prepare a professional quotation. When the Director of Marketing and PR resigned at the start of 2014 I felt the time was right for me to step up and give back a little bit more to the Society.

Having helped to recruit a new Social Media Manager (who has since launched a great new SfEP blog) and attended just one board meeting, I had to step back down from the plate, due to a personal crisis.

The hat I didn’t want to wear

As many of my clients and colleagues already know, my father suffered a severe stroke early in 2014 and ever since I have been battling with the NHS and local authorities to get him moved from hospital in Sheffield to a care home in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, so that my family and I can visit him regularly and help with his care.

As I write – more than six months since the stroke – the move has not happened. Fingers crossed: it is imminent.

But I really do mean ‘battling’. Many people need to don a nurses’ cap at some point in their lives to care for elderly relatives. Now, it seems, many of us also have to sport a pith helmet as we sally forth into the great unknown territory of local government bureaucracy. The terms Catch-22 and Ever Decreasing Circles were surely coined especially for this!

On the plus side, my few short years of working as an editor in the civil service coupled with over 20 years’ grappling with complex projects, technical documents and policy papers have left me well equipped to track down the relevant paragraphs that the hard-pressed and under-trained social workers missed in the official guidelines for care funding (para. 11.011, in case you ever need to know).

I didn’t get the nickname Yorkshire Terrier for nothing.

Keep on keeping on

As I get ready for the next SfEP Conference (#sfep14), I’m thinking back to the last one I attended (Oxford, 2011), where I had a very enjoyable and enlightening time, particularly with a group of like-minded experienced colleagues who came along to my workshop, ‘Keep on keeping on’.

Tenacity is one of the core requirements for a freelance worker of any type, but for writers, editors and proofreaders – who are often working unsupervised and in relative isolation – it is crucial.

So, keep on keeping on, whatever it is you do. And I look forward to seeing lots of tenacious colleagues (with or without hats) at the SfEP Conference on Sunday 14 September.