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Is it normal? #proofreaderslife

04 March 2016 09:07

As a freelance editorial type, this is something I often ask myself.


Is it normal, for instance, to wake up in the night and remember you need to double-check the use of a capital letter in the proofreading project you're currently working on? Is it normal to lie awake, wondering how on earth you're going to juggle all the editorial jobs you've said, 'Yes', 'Yes' and 'Yes' to, because to turn any of them down would be foolish in case you hit a dry spell? And when the dry spell arrives (which, after all, is only normal now and again – isn't it?), is it normal to fill your days with excessive bursts of marketing, vigorous tweets, a re-budget paring everything down to the absolute bone, and a frantic scuffle every ten minutes checking each email account you've ever used in the faint hope that someone somewhere will be asking for your services?


Well … is it?


The world of work strewn with deadlines. Dates for this and dates for that have to be scribbled into diaries or on wall charts or calendars – unless you're one of those clever people who can set up some kind of schedule thingy on your computer. I probably could with the right mentor, but I'm the sort who rather likes having a hard-backed A5 diary at my elbow. There's something solid about a proper diary; dependable. You can consult it with a flourish. Flip to the right page and it will efficiently jog your memory as to what's currently expected of you. You can easily count down days to various project completion dates; work out a proper plan. (Oh, and by the way, is it normal to make plans which, alarmingly often, become almost impossible to stick to – so then you have to make another plan – and more than likely another after that?)


As an author as well as a proofreader and copy editor, I find, along I'm sure with the rest of the freelance community, that my gaze is perpetually fixed on some date in the future. A piece of writing to be finished by then, a magazine to be proofread by then, another job needed by then to fill a gap ... It can actually be quite hard to live in the present; to get a grip on what's normal and what's perhaps faintly ridiculous.


So maybe, in the midst of the hurly-burly, what's needed is to stop and take a few very deep breaths. To go outside and look at something beautiful: a flower or a spreading tree, or a patch of blue sky (if you can find one) with a single white cloud suspended at its centre. To remind yourself that, though you may work on your own, there's a great fellowship of freelance writers and proofreaders out there, all with the shared experience of pulling in and programming work, then beavering away to get it done to the schedule and satisfaction of their clients. A great fellowship who suffer the odd dry spell just like you do, and seek to prevent its happening too often with cunningly devised marketing strategies.


A great fellowship who, more than likely, wake at night with points of grammar running through their heads (surely that's not just me ...?).


In any case, does 'normal' really matter? After all, it's probably a pretty broad spectrum. And when I'm tussling with this and that and the other on my own, that's such a comfort.


One of my books for children, Topz Gospels - Matthew, has been shortlisted in the UK Christian Book Awards 2016. To cast your vote, please visit and give it a click!