Today is the first day of the second year of the rest of my life …

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Exif_JPEG_PICTURE12 December 2011 was my last day in my old office. So today is semi-officially the first day of my second year of full self-employment, although I was still employed and paid by the University until 31 December, so there will be another celebration on 1 January. Happy days! How long have you been at it … or how long have you to go until freedom?

You can read all about my journey to full-time self-employment on this blog, and I’ll be publishing a book about it in the New Year!

Back to school …

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Ink pots on a deskThe autumn is a traditional time of renewal and change for me. Decisions are made, changes are implemented.  In the past I’ve bought a flat (and sold it) and made plans to move in with my partner in the autumn, left jobs and started jobs. Of course I also made the big decision as to when to go full time with Libro last autumn! It always feels like the start of something; not the slow decline into winter, the ageing of the year, but a time of renewal, warmth indoors and frosts outdoors, time in my head, not time with the sun soaking into my skin …

I think this is probably more to do with the UK academic year than anything else. And, in connection with that, this Autumn feels more than a little odd.

I did some pondering about this and I realised that there have been very few years in the 40 I’ve been on this earth so far in which I haven’t had some kind of “back to school” feeling. And yet I don’t have that this year. To break this down …

  • 1972-1975 – Too young for school!
  • 1975-1992 – At primary then secondary school, then University, then working at the University Library.
  • 1993-1995 – No back to school! Working in various jobs
  • 1996-2004 – Working at EBSCO. Our renewals period was Sept-Oct each year, so that felt like the start of a new year all over again
  • 2005-2011 – Working at the University Library. No, contrary to popular opinion, we didn’t have the summer off, but of course back came the students after the pause of the summer vac, and it all started again …

So that’s, what, 7 years out of 40 when I haven’t been somehow going Back To School in one form or another. No wonder I feel a bit odd!

Back to work

In some ways, this autumn does feel like going “back to” something. We had quite an odd summer, all in all. We had workmen in through the summer, not just lovely Terry the decorator, but a door man and a hedge man. This meant a change to my routine – as I am by default “The one who’s at home” I had to be dressed reasonably normally, able to answer questions, and making decisions on all sorts of things. I had some time off work for the Olympics, but because we had a “real” holiday booked, I couldn’t be as unavailable as I’d have maybe liked to be, so I ended up scrabbling around working between TV viewing, and it wasn’t as satisfactory as it might have been.

Then we DID have our holiday, and that was lovely, and I learned that I CAN have an actual week away from the internet connection (and even phone connection) and Libro wouldn’t dissolve into nothing.

And then I had my Iris Murdoch Conference (more of that later) and now I’m back and starting into the run of working life up to Christmas.

So, what’s changed?

It’s still my time of change and renewal, and I guess it always will be. Fine – some people’s season and renewal is the spring, some the summer (what’s yours?) and mines’ the autumn. In a way, this feels like the start of Libro full time, more than January did. I’ve been able to reflect on the past 9 months, see what’s worked and what hasn’t, and have a think about the way forward.

There are no big changes coming, nothing exciting, nothing shocking. I do know I’ve been working a bit too hard, a few too many hours. Some of that is unavoidable – other people’s deadlines slipping, and crashing into work that’s already been booked in. I’m getting good at batting away all other small new jobs when that kind of thing happens. I’ve also built up a good roster of people to whom I can refer work I don’t have time – or don’t choose – to do, which means I can say “no”, but, crucially, I can say, “But I can give you the name of a person who might be able to help” – and that makes me feel better.

I’m lucky enough to have a good set of regular clients. Over this year, I’ve become more choosy over who I add to my client list – clients I think will become regulars, the kind of work I enjoy doing, the financial aspects that make it worth doing – or with the less well-paid gigs, other factors such as enjoyment of the actual work.  I’m looking at the areas of work I do and paying attention to what I like doing and what I don’t enjoy so much. Some aspects of my work will diminish in importance as a result of this sifting. And I’m glad to have people, as I said, to refer new prospects on to if they come to me. For example, I don’t think I’m going to take on many Master’s coaching students this year. They are interesting to work with, but the unpredictability of the inevitably urgent work makes it hard to plan my week and be able to support the students. Luckily I know a great woman who is brilliant at taking students through their academic year, so off they go to help her build her business!

Autumnal balance

Autumn’s a time of balance, isn’t it. The year on the balance, tipping into the end of the year, towards the depths of winter. So there’s going to be more balance here. Watching those autumn TV programmes with Matthew.  Taking advantage of our new RSPB membership. Spending some time on my research project. Relaxing a bit now I’m half way through the financial year and know how I’m doing …

It might not be back to school for me this year, but it is back to a more balanced life, after a frankly odd summer.  How’s it going for you?

The First Six Months

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Wow – the end of June on Saturday marked the end of my first six months running Libro full time, with no safety net of an office job (but plenty of safety nets in terms of savings and experience!).

I thought I should mark this in some way, so I’ve changed the photo on my Facebook page to give myself some flowers, and I’m writing this to review the past six months. Has it gone as expected? Has anything surprised me? Am I actually doing OK? Am I happier? Am I enjoying myself? What have I learned?

Has it gone as expected?

In a word: no!

But in a good way. Each time I dropped a day at the office job in 2011 I experienced a small “slump” where the work coming in, and the profit made, dipped a little, just for a month. So I expected a big drop, a fallow period, especially as I had Jury Service to contend with at the beginning of January.

In fact, to tell you the truth, I was quite looking forward to a little rest. I’d actually finished my library job on 12 December and had worked solidly since then, gaining a new client and working over Christmas, including through a cold! But … it didn’t happen. I had obviously gathered a good number of regular customers, and adding a new one into the roster made a big difference. Also, some of my regulars increased the work they sent to me, as I had told them I was more available now, and having more hours available to work made me able to, well, do more.

Basically, the work ramped up right away, and I’ve been working pretty well full-time hours ever since!

Did anything surprise me?

I have to admit that I’m a little surprised that I’m sitting here, working full time on my business, keeping busy and earning well.  I didn’t think I was going to FAIL as such, because I had planned everything out, and by the end of March I knew that I was earning enough to keep myself going. But I’m actually doing better than I’d expected, in terms of busy-ness and in terms of income.

I think I’ve surprised myself with my success – a few years ago, I could never have dreamed I’d be doing this! I’m not being smug about it and it has come with a LOT of hard work, and I should have had the faith in myself not to be surprised at this point …

Have I surprised anyone else, I wonder? Friends who’ve known me for years and newer business friends? I’d love to know!

Am I actually doing OK?

In terms of income, I’m happy to admit that I’m earning more than I have in any other job I’ve had (only a little more than the highest-paying one, but still). And now I’ve got through the double tax year and out the other side with my tax payments safely set aside, knowing what I owe and what I could take home, I am taking home enough to live on and to treat myself (and my patient friends who graciously accepted cheap / badly planned / cheap AND badly planned Christmas and Birthday presents for a few years). I’m not rolling in it, and I have turned into neither Richard Branson nor Mrs Thatcher, but I’m doing well enough to be happy with it.

In terms of clients, I have a fairly full roster of regular clients of various kinds, keeping my work varied, from editing non-fiction and fiction books to transcribing international conferences and journalists’ interviews to localising web and marketing text for all sorts of companies.  My website and blog are getting more hits every month, and I do like looking at those stats!

Physical health wise, I’m eating well and getting to the gym a lot more, walking to meet Matthew after work, etc. Mental health wise I am a lot less stressed and I thrive on working on my own but having virtual colleagues via social media and business contacts and friends via various networking groups. I also have more flexibility and time to see friends and spend time with family.

Another important thing for me is helping people and giving back. I’ve been able to put together some great resources for students, Word users and other small businesses – OK, they bring people to my website, but I also love being able to help people out. My Saturday freelance/small business chats are going well, with a year’s worth done so we’re onto a combo of updates and new interviews. I love being able to showcase other small businesses and share our stories with people thinking about making the leap into self-employment or business ownership. And I’ve been able to help out other businesses and groups at the Social Media Surgeries, etc., too.

Am I happy / enjoying it?

Yes, I am! I’m so much happier and relaxed than I was even before I was working part time and running the business part time. This kind of lifestyle really suits me, and I genuinely enjoy the work. It’s great to be able to use my abilities and stretch myself, and I love knowing I have those regular clients out there and hearing how they are getting on and interacting with people all around the world, from China to Canada.

Specifically related to the full-time aspect of it, I love the fact that I do have more time for other projects, reading, Matthew and friends now. It might not look like it sometimes, but I am working fewer hours compared to when I was employed and self-employed at the same time. And I’ll admit that it’s nice to have a bit of money after a few years of hard saving and being very frugal indeed.

What have I learned?

The most important lessons I’ve learned are …

  • Embrace new opportunities, whether that’s new kinds of client, new kinds of work, presenting at training days or whatever
  • Don’t worry if it goes a bit quiet: it will pick up again and I can use the time to recharge my batteries
  • I can do it – and I must trust in myself and my relationships with my clients that I can
  • Eat a lunch made of more than one food group before 2pm and go outside every day and all will stay reasonably well and healthy

Thank you!

I’d just like to put out a big thank you to …

  • My clients, regular and one-off
  • Those clients who have been able to give me references and recommend me on to new clients (some of you can’t do this owing to NDAs, I know!)
  • My readers of both my blogs – whether you comment or not
  • The people who have kindly shared posts on Facebook, retweeted on Twitter or even featured me on their own websites and blogs
  • My online friends who I’ve never met but are there for good times and bad
  • My patient friends – it’s much better now, isn’t it!
  • Matthew, for putting up with me, for embracing and celebrating someone who’s changed an awful lot since you met them 11 years ago, and for tech support, of course!

Here’s to the next six months … and onwards!

Liz Broomfield, Professional Editor and Writer

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Here’s me looking all professional (thanks again to the wonderful photographer, Adam Yosef).

The reason I’ve posted this? Well, I did my Self-Assessment Tax Return on Sunday.

Not only did I earn what I would consider to be a Living Wage with Libro last year (quadrupling my profit from 2010-2011), but I also didn’t lose as much of it to the tax man as I thought I would (see the posts on my main Libro blog about Payment On Account and on the outcome of my Tax Return).

So, I am able to support myself with my freelance work. I didn’t, to be honest, think I’d get to this point for a while. I’m not saying I’m rolling in money, but I’m certainly OK for the odd coffee out, and a holiday, although I’d be on a tight rein financially this year  (because of the double tax thing) if I hadn’t got some money saved up from when I was in full time employment.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m being smug or showing off about this. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, and I’ve worked very hard, but mainly I’m posting this to share with you that it is possible to do this, if you plan carefully, work hard and stick with it. I’m not a natural entrepreneur, and I’ve had pretty much a zero marketing budget; I’m lucky enough not to have too many business outgoings, but I am proving that it can be done.

First action for this financial year: take Matthew out for a slap-up meal (on me, not expenses!) to thank him for his patience and forbearance!

My first proper full-time week

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My first full-time week

So, this has been my first proper full-time week with Libro. In December, although I worked just on Libro for the second part of the month, I was still employed by the University and being paid by them. The first two weeks of January were supposed to be my Jury Service weeks: in the end, I wasn’t called for a case and only did four half days there, but I’d put off work (or done it in advance) so, certainly in the first week, I didn’t have the usual amount to do. I had the rest that I should have had over Christmas, in fact. But this week, it’s just me and Libro.

Work

I’m going to record a “typical week” later on in the year, just like I did when I was doing two jobs. I don’t feel things have settled down enough yet to know what a typical week is, so I’ll just summarise what I’ve got up to this week. I’ve edited articles for two regular clients and documents for one of those. I’ve proof-read a PhD and some smaller academic pieces; the PhD was for a new direct client and the other pieces were for a student proofreading company who contract out work to me. I also edited a local history book and converted it into e-book format for the author, edited a downloadable document for another regular, and typed up a transcription of an interview for my journalist client. I have done 33 1/2 billable hours, plus more hours doing admin and marketing, including responding to requests for price and service quotations.

Non-work activities

Or maybe I should call some of this non-billable-work activities! On Thursday, I went to my first Jelly co-working event. This is a monthly get-together organised by a local writer and event organiser, and I’ve been keen to attend for a while, but it falls on a day when I would normally have been working at the Library, and it never felt right to take too many days off for networking. This event takes place in the Jewellery Quarter, which is a bit of a walk across town, but in a cafe I know well, and we all sat around a big table, laptops out, working and chatting. The other attendees were a mixture of people I’d met before and new people, and it was a very nice, sociable occasion. I have to do most of my work in my quiet office, and I did plan to write up some blog posts, but ended up working on a client’s thesis, which was perhaps the wrong project to choose. But I’d definitely go again. I’m going to write up a review of all the networking and other events I attend in another post: I had planned to go to something called Likemind on Friday morning, but having had lunch at Jelly, I had taken a bit too much out of my working days, so left that for another month.

Other activities included writing up some blog posts: I’m doing a series on how to use Word effectively, complete with screen prints, and I went through and created draft blog posts for all the Troublesome Pairs people had suggested (see the Libro blog for all these). I like to get ahead with blog posts so I can just publish them quickly when I’m busy with other work.

I also had Friday evening and most of Saturday off for my birthday. Had a lovely time and it was good to relax and see friends.

Is this different from having two jobs?

One difference I noticed quite markedly this month was the effect a long day of Libro work had on my life and energy levels. On Wednesday, I had to get through proof-reading most of a PhD thesis, plus some other bits and pieces. I ended up working an 11 1/2 hour day (I did get out, to the gym, for half an hour of rowing!). I worked late, and I was tired by the end of the day. But it was great to know that if I needed to, I could rest on Thursday. Actually I ended up getting up early to complete a job I’d had to put off from the Wednesday, but just knowing I wasn’t going to HAVE to get up at a particular time and get myself across to the office was great.

And … this is going to sound a bit smug. But you know that Sunday Afternoon Blahs feeling, when you know you have to go back to the office on Monday? Well, not only have I not had that for a couple of weeks; today I had the Sunday Morning Whoos, when I realised I wasn’t going to have the blahs this afternoon!

One disadvantage of leaving the day job

Some of my ex-colleagues came to my birthday dinner on Friday night. I hadn’t seen them since my last day, and two of them live a little way away, which makes it hard to just meet up. I realised that I really miss them all – more than I maybe thought I would. Does that sound horrible? We all have colleagues we get on with, but we also all have people from old jobs where we’ve said, “Ooh, keep in touch, we must go out some time” … and then don’t. Well, I want to see these people more, and I’ve already emailed them to say so!

In conclusion …

It’s been a good week. I’ve read more and seen my friends more. I’ve continued networking and marketing myself, and I’ve worked hard for my customers. Life is easier and more flexible – I’m certainly enjoying being able to go to the gym in the day time, when it’s so much quieter. I have also hit the middle of my three monthly earning (that’s money physically coming in to my account) targets already, and on aggregate, have hit my billable hours (money going onto invoices, but not always yet in) target per week. I hope this stays the same next week …

Exactly how I did it

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I’ve been asked by quite a number of people exactly how I have made the transition from part-time “pin money” business to full-time business that is able to support me. Here’s the thing: I haven’t done it yet! I’ve just gone full time, and I’m pretty sure it will work … but the fact that I am pretty sure that it will work, and that I have back-up information and statistics that make this clear to me, is enough for me to think it might be useful to set it out. So, a mixture of practical and exact things I did to make it happen:

I’ve kept records – right from the start (and thanks in large part to the HMRC course I attended just after I set myself up) I’ve kept records of my invoices and outgoings on a spreadsheet. I have always grouped my income information monthly and my full incomings and outgoings yearly (based on the UK April-March financial year, which is Libro’s financial year too). This means that at any one point in time I can see:

  • Which invoices are still outstanding
  • My income for this month (and previous months)
  • My income, outgoings and profit for the current financial year, as of today

It was quite easy to do this, using fairly simple Excel skills, with the main invoices sheet feeding information into the other sheets as I go along (no retyping: no room for error)

I’ve had goals – I’ll admit: when I started Libro I had no idea that I was ever going to take it full-time. I thought I might end up working at the day job part-time, but not that I might give it up altogether. But as I realised I was working more hours on the two jobs than I really wanted to, I set goals for myself, so I could see when I would be able to drop a day at the day job in favour of Libro. This is how I did it:

  • I worked out how much money I would lose per month if I dropped a day at the library. To do this, I divided my monthly gross salary by 5. So to move to 4 days a week and replace the lost income, Libro would have to earn 1/5 of my monthly library salary per month.
  • I added a column to my monthly income spreadsheet called “Against 1/5 target”. The amount in that cell for each month was my 1/5 salary minus my Libro earnings for that month. So if the amount needed to replace my salary was £400 and I earned £350, then I had brought in -£50 against target. Or was £50 under target.
  • I made this into a graph – a great way to see immediately where I was against target
  • I added a cumulative target too – this meant that if I made £350 one month and £450 the next, my records would iron out the ups and downs to show if I was covering targets on average.
  • Once the 1/5 target was being achieved every month for 6 months, I knew it was time to negotiate dropping a day at the library and did so, starting the new regime in January 2011.
  • Then I repeated, using a 2/5 target. In fact, I started these columns off at the same time, and used them to show me that I could drop a second day in May 2011. Which I did.
  • 5/5 i.e. total salary replacement was my next target. But targets should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based) and that was a bit scary at that point, and seemed too far away. So I sorted out some interstitial targets of 3/5 and 4/5 salary replacement. In fact, I cheated slightly – because I was managing to live on 3/5 of my salary at that point, I adjusted these last 3 to be a bit lower, giving me a lower target to replace, knowing I could live on that lower amount.

I saved up – Once I realised that I was likely to want to move to a more part-time basis with my job, I saved and saved and saved. It helps that interest rates are so low, oddly enough: I am happier to sacrifice my savings to living expenses, knowing that they wouldn’t do much in a savings account. But I made sure that I had a whole year of living expenses saved up before I left my job, so 2012 is covered.

I cut costs – By hoarding Amazon vouchers for when I had to have new books, using BookCrossing and charity shops as other sources of books, not buying new clothes, etc., etc. – all very boring stuff – I managed to live off my reduced wages from the Library through my part-time year. This meant that all my earnings from 2011 and 2012 can go to paying my way in 2013.

I worked hard Because I always needed to be working enough to replace my salary for a good few months before I dropped the day in question, there have been three periods in my Libro life (Oct-Nov 2010, Mar-Apr 2011 and Sep-Nov 2011) when I’ve been working rather too many hours in the 2 combined jobs to be entirely comfortable. But I’d rather have it this way than leave myself vulnerable. But it has been hard to do 7.5 hours at the library, come home and do 3-4 more some evenings, and maybe 5 each day at the weekend.  And no one got anywhere without working hard, really.

I made sacrifices (and so did other people – sorry!) – I had to prioritise Libro. So I have had to postpone or cancel meeting up with friends; accept that I can’t keep up with my Twitter and Facebook timelines; not spent as much time with my Other Half as I would have wished and certainly not gone on trips out with him; practically given up reading for pleasure; not spent out on anything unneccessary … but you don’t get anywhere without some sacrifies, and I knew by a certain point that this would be temporary.

I was pretty darned blatant - I told everyone what I was doing. I cajoled and begged people into giving out my business cards, into retweeting my Tweets and sharing my Facebook posts. I started going to networking events – everything I could to do raise awareness of the business. I asked for references and testimonials, I asked for recommendations; I carried on marketing myself even when I was busy with work already.

I did all the other stuff I have blogged about on the Libro blog regarding how to run your small business. I won’t repeat that here. Pop over there if you want to see.

I said it out loud – at one point this year I started announcing to all and sundry that I was aiming to leave the day job. I took advice, I asked for support, but I claimed it for myself. Powerful stuff, if a bit scary.

So there  you go: that’s how I did it. It’s one way, it might not be the best way, but it’s (hopefully) worked for me.

I hope this has been helpful – do tell me (and share it) if it has!

Goodbye to the work-work balance: hello to the work-life balance

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Today is officially my last day as an employed person: the last day of my contract with the University of Birmingham Library. My email account will disappear today (I have kept a quick eye on it now and then in case anyone missed that I’d gone) and I have been paid up to today. Of course, I managed to leave on 12 December, because of University General Holidays, leave and flexi owing to me, but this is it now.

I am still glad that I soft-launched Libro in this way, first working at the Library full-time (August 2009 – December 2010), then part-time (January – April 2011), then even more part-time (May – December 2011).

  • I managed to save up enough money to support myself for a year while I was full-time, then lived on my reduced wages, more or less, for the last year. This has meant I only need to make a year’s living money out of  Libro’s earnings for 2011-12 and 2012-13 in order to survive the year after that, reducing the stress and expectations.
  • The slow build-up means I know I can do it – much less risk for me, again (I wrote about this on the Libro blog back in May).
  • Being already experienced running Libro while having that safety net means I am already aware of the ups and downs. If an invoice goes unpaid for a little longer than I’d like, I don’t have to be all OMG: penury!! about it – I can just draw on past experience to wait for (or push for) the money.
  • If things appear tedious, tiring or stressful, that’s nothing to working 8 hours in one job, coming home and getting my head down to another 4 at the other one. Or working late for Libro and having to get up early to finish something before going in to the University.
  • I’ve built up a support network and cheerleaders amongst ex-colleagues and other people I’ve met along the way – so I have a peer group for editing or small business matters, and a group of local friends who I can go to for non-work related gossip and chat or support.
  • I’ve been able to identify the networking groups that are truly valuable: if they were worth taking time off a paid job for, they are worth continuing to attend now (and I know which ones I was upset not to be able to attend, so I can throw something new into the mix now)

So, a funny time, at the end of the year, anyway (not that I can ever stay up late enough to see the New Year in). I’m excited about what 2012 will bring for me and Libro, but quietly excited, not nervy or particularly scared or all keyed-up about it.

There’s just the small matter of a couple of weeks’ Jury Service to get through, and then off I sail in the good ship Libro! I look forward to continuing to share my “journey” with you …

My first week of full-time self-employment

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Liz in the office

Well, it’s late on Sunday of my first week of self-employment: I had my leaving do on Monday and it’s been go, go, go ever since!  Before last weekend, I just had one transcription booked in for this week, coming in on Thursday. “Fine,” I thought, “I can get my Christmas cards and the cleaning done, and have a bit of a rest”. Well, it wasn’t quite to be like that.

I had an enquiry about a job while I was actually at my leaving do. Thank goodness for the BlackBerry and the fact that I’m almost teetotal these days! I sent a holding message with details of my availability and pricing, and negotiated that job, copy-editing/proof-reading part of a professional rulebook (I was both checking the spelling, etc., and comparing it to last year’s book to make sure no differences had crept in), the next morning: I got it in right away with a deadline of Thursday morning (which moved forward eventually).

I had an edition of the club magazine I’ve been editing for nearly 2 years in on the Monday night, too, plus some pieces from a student proof-reading company I work with and a feature to write from a regular. So that all got done on Tuesday. On Wednesday I finished the big project and did a little bit for a new client. I managed a trip to the gym and I had a Christmas meal with my friends from BookCrossing. I don’t know if I’ll be doing much more BookCrossing this year, but I do want (badly) to spend more time with my friends. On Thursday, having still not written my Christmas cards or done the cleaning, I did more student work, polished a translation from the Polish, did an hour or so of copy-editing for another regular, and popped into town to have a meeting with a potential new client about writing a set of blog posts for them. When I got home, I wrote out my Christmas cards and went for a chilly run.

On Friday, I emailed confirmation of our meeting to the potential new client, looked at a chapter of a PhD for a client whose other chapters I worked on last week, did some more student work, and posted my Christmas cards, AND did the cleaning! Hooray! On Saturday we had a family lunch and then a party at M’s bosses’ house to go to: I transcribed for one of my regular transcription clients and did some student work in the morning before I went out. I got home to a message from the new client that they would like to accept my price and service offer and asking for my invoice for their deposit. And today I finished that transcription and did a bit more copy-editing, around going to the gym and watching the Strictly Come Dancing final on catch-up this morning and visiting a friend in the evening, with a crisp and icy walk home.  I also emailed my regulars to tell them about a commitment I have early next year which may affect response times for a little while.

I have two transcriptions to do for my journalist client and a web page to copy-edit for next week, plus doing final edits and some reference checking on a non-fiction book I’ve been working on for a while. I have a novel and a PhD due in, too.  I have promised to have Christmas Day off!

I wrote out a list of New Job Resolutions, mainly around going outside in the daylight and having proper lunches, and I can report that I have achieved both those things all week. I’ve kept warm, chilly looking picture above notwithstanding!

I’ve done 29 hours 15 mins of billable work this week, beating my targets, and I’ve brought in almost my target for the month in incoming payments, so I’m really pleased about that. I know every week won’t be this good, but it’s been a good one to have to help with the transition into full-time Libro.

However, although in my head I understand I am now with Libro, I have to support myself, etc., etc., I’ve realised that I haven’t really come to terms with it yet. It sort of feels like I’m on annual leave from the library job and will be going back there afterwards, and I suspect it might only hit me after the New Year. Hm; we’ll see how that goes!

My last day

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This might be quite a long one, but I wanted to record my last day! Although I will still be getting up early to start work every morning, I won’t particularly miss the dark, cold walk up my road to the main road to catch the bus! I know it’s not always dark when I go out, but it has been, of course, these past few weeks.

The campus wasn’t quite this dark when I came in, but near enough. The library looked atmospheric and cosy with its lights on. As dawn comes up, all these trees fill with birds, twittering away. I will miss working on such a lovely campus.

Jennifer took some pics of me at my desk … and I took one of my dear desk-mate with my view up the office from my corner desk. I also took one of the view out of our window. I could watch the seasons change on the trees outside. At least we could see outside – in two of the offices I worked in (Courtyard Office and B38) I couldn’t see the sky at all!) I recorded one of the last bits of work I did (changing the loan statuses of these books) and a Love Heart from the sweeties I brought in for everyone: “Just Say No”. Nice!

A few people from the office went for lunch at Selly Sausage – thanks to Julie for organising this!  John passed me my card and presents with no fuss, which is exactly how I wanted it to be – thanks John! As we walked back, the sun went in a bit, which was a shame, as Campus had been looking just as it did in 1988 when I first visited on an Open Day! Becky took a pic of me outside the library …

After I’d finished work I went across to Staff House. The coffee bar wasn’t open so I sat on a sofa in the foyer with my hot cross bun and current read. Becky came and joined me and then a lovely number of my and Matthew’s colleagues came by to wish me good luck (sorry Alan, didn’t get a pic of you). Thanks for coming, everyone!

And Matthew and I went for a curry with a couple of the others … a bit of a late one!

This morning, I opened my gifts from Jennifer (the postits), the LUCIA ladies, and Heather – thank you so much everyone!

And now it’s Libro all the way, with a vengeance, with four projects to complete from my regulars (two done before breakfast!), a quotation in for another larger project and some student work coming over today.

Thanks to everyone at the Library and from Psychology who made my last day a fun and memorable one! Here’s a slideshow of pictures from the day …

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Go on: inspire me!

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As I trembled on the brink of my momentous Last Day In Employment this evening, I threw out a distress flare on Facebook and Twitter. As you do. My old school friend, Kathy, came to the rescue with some lines from our school song!

So: share with me YOUR inspiring school song! Polite versions only, please. But if you’re our age or older, I bet you had one …

What if the lessons of life grow harder?

What if they bring no gain?

Still we can work for the joy of working,

Play up and play the game!

Courage and honour as England’s women

Think of the school on the hill!

School on the hill top, keep our devotion

True among all life’s fears.

Let our tradition of Courage and Honour

Grow, Grrrow with the passing years!

(copyright TGSG, I suppose. No intention to steal it. Just share a few lines, eh?)

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