A typical week … now

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A few months ago, when I was still working at the Library 21 hours per week, I wrote this post about a typical week, so that I remembered what it was like trying to manage the two. Now I’ve settled into some kind of routine working at Libro full time, I thought it was time to repeat the exercise. So here’s a “typical” week (if there is such a thing) these days …

Monday 19 March – got up just after 6, came up to the study, worked on this post then got down to finishing off proof-reading the third chapter of a PhD a client’s sending me in batches. I also put the finishing touches on a localisation I’d done for a big newish client – the client had answered some questions and I updated my “translation” on the software accordingly, signed the job off and added it to their monthly invoice. I had breakfast with M before he walked to work. I then did some admin to do with an event I’m speaking at in June, and settled down to a good session on another client’s PhD. It’s my exercise rest day, so I can get some good long working sessions in.  I had a good, healthy lunch and went for a walk up the High Street to pick up a few things: a real benefit of working from home is being able to pop out the shops at quieter times in the retail day (I’m also spending less, although I’m not sure how, as I’ve never been a big spender anyway) and lunch and day time trips out are a good, healthy habit since I sorted out my Homeworker’s Resolutions. Back home and I had a few little bits in from regulars before doing another localisation session followed by some more PhD. I popped out to meet M on his walk home then had a quiet evening, interspersed with the odd email from a client, dealt with on my Blackberry.

Tuesday 20 March – I had some work in during yesterday evening / overnight – three student essays, two of which are from people I’m taking through their Master’s course. Oh, the luxury: if this had been in the Old Days, I’d have been frantically working on my previous projects before starting these. I completed one and started another before breakfast: while putting the bibliography of the first one in alphabetical order, I was inspired to put together a blog post on how to do that, so I created the screen shots and a draft blog post for that before getting on with the next essay. After breakfast I responded to a few emails asking for price and service quotations before continuing with student essays. I went to the gym, booked in another job with a regular client which involved downloaded and learning some new software, and after lunch met an editing friend for a walk in the park and a chat about business – she’s someone I recommend academic enquirers on to when I’m too busy to take them on and we needed to discuss a few things, and it was nice to do that in the sunshine. Then back to my desk for another editing session for some regular clients. I then ended up struggling with some recalcitrant software which meant I got behind and had to spend some of the evening after dinner working.

Wednesday 21 March – up early as usual and a couple of hours of PhD editing before breakfast. I realised the table numbering in the thesis had gone awry so emailed the client with the options. After breakfast I published my blog post on adding Contents Pages to Word, publicised that and continued with the thesis. I popped down to the Post Office depot to pick up a parcel (I’m here almost constantly; how did it not get delivered?) and then up to the cafe for a regular “grown-ups’ homework club” / catch-up with a fellow freelancer and friend. It’s good to sound off about how things are going and chat about plans as well as just relaxing and seeing a human face. I set up a Facebook group to co-ordinate this a little while ago and it’s proved an excellent addition to my week. Came home and did a quick edit of a text translated from Chinese, and after lunch wrote a press release for a medical client. I worked some more on the PhD, went to the gym and did a little more after dinner. I explained why I’ve got to pay my tax twice next year to M (oh, the thrills! I’ve commissioned an article on Paying On Account from an accountant for the Libro blog). A good balance today although another evening spent away from “family time”.

Thursday 22 March – I worked on an academic article in the morning, including checking all the references were there (they weren’t) and tracking down the missing ones, as well as making sure everything conformed to the author guidelines set out by the journal the article was being written for. That was fun and a bit more challenging than some of my work. A few payments in (including a big one I’ve been waiting for anxiously, which achieved my targets for this month and next!) and I checked a press release for a regular before getting down to working in the Scrivener software for my author client – I’m helping her combine her articles into a book. She’s provided lots of guidance for me on what she wants, which is marvellous and very helpful! I also put a wash on – how lovely to be able to see the sun and get a wash done and out on the line: I’d have been in the office this time last year, looking at the sun and knowing it wasn’t drying anything on my line! I then walked in to the University (3 miles), got my hair cut and walked back again (3 miles) before doing a couple of hours of PhD work in the evening. I had commissioned a guest blog post on Tax Payment on Account from a great accountant I met recently, and was thrilled to have that come in to me by the end of the day; I’ll publish it the week after next once I’ve tidied up the formatting and written an introduction.

Friday 23 March – I’d had lots of requests to do projects in through the evening and, in fact, the night, so had to crack on: finished proof-reading an advert and localising some company communications before breakfast, then published a troublesome pair blog post, wrote an article about a man and his dentistry, localised some information on electric cars and finished the big thesis I’ve been working on all week. Phew! Another wash out on the line, lunch and then a couple of hours on some more chapters I’d had in from my other thesis client, before treating myself to an hour on my Iris Murdoch project in the cafe before meeting a contact to chat about some work she’d like me to do writing for her website. I went to the gym and was set to do some more work after dinner, but unfortunately a house-related mini-emergency took up the rest of the evening, leading me to cancel plans for Saturday afternoon. Nothing changes there, then …

Saturday 24 March – This is where it gets tough. A late evening and then disturbances related to neighbours in the night meant I had to drag myself upstairs to the study to try to complete the work I’d promised my client by mid-morning, which I should have got on with last night. I had at least written up my Saturday freelancer chat, so that was ready to just publish and promote before breakfast time. Fortunately, the first work project was continuing with a PhD I was fairly familiar with, so I could press on, knowing I was already aware of the writer’s style and common errors. If I’d been too tired to do it, I wouldn’t have, but I was just weary, and worked on it as well as I would normally do (maybe a little more slowly: I’m glad I charge by the word and not by the hour nowadays!). I finished that, sent off the chapters, worked on an issue of a magazine and put in a couple of hours on my author’s blog-to-book project: I did also go for a walk in the park and didn’t work after dinner time.

Sunday 25 March – Oh no: the clocks changed! I also found out I had a community meeting in the afternoon, so I didn’t get the lie-in I’d hoped for (but I couldn’t sacrifice my run). I finished my author’s work and started a new PhD chapter, did my run, had lunch, finished the PhD chapter and sent it off, then started a transcription project I have had in from my student proofreading company – 5 hours of lectures to type up for a student (!). I got on quite well, so not too much worrying about finishing it. I also had quite a long piece of work from one of my translator clients, which came in just as I sat down to watch the TV with Matthew …


It’s still a juggling act – between work, personal and social life and exercise. But it’s not between work, work, personal life and exercise, at least. Not having fixed, monolithic hours to go to the office makes things a lot easier, although it’s easier to cancel fixed items like networking meetings, which I really shouldn’t do. I still get tired, and I still work a few evenings, but if I work in the evening it’s often because I’ve done something in the day time: it’s rare for me to truly put in a 10-hour day! In terms of working hours, I did 40 billable hours this week, with perhaps another 7 or 8 admin hours. So that is actually about 6-7 hours more than before, although without the commuting time. Note that I’ve done 35, 18 and 36 hours in the other weeks this month: there is no such thing as a typical month.

I’m going to write about the general changes I’ve found in my life over the past three months in another post, but this should serve as a (n interesting?) contrast to my week “before”. It feels better … it’s definitely paying better, per hour and generally, and I’ll run this exercise again in another few months to see if anything’s changed or resolved.

Book reviews: Sprig Muslin, Goldengrove Unleaving and Sylvester


Georgette Heyer – Sprig Muslin

(31 August 2011 – BookCrossing)

Part of a 4-book omnibus picked up from Linda – I’m saving “These Old Shades” for when I get to it in the books Heather gave me when I left my library job, but enjoying the other three. I hadn’t read any Heyer for years and years, so coming to these is like reading them anew. In this one, sprightly Amanda is caught running away by Sir Gareth, who then feels somehow that he has to keep up with her, keep an eye on her  and restore her to her fiance, all the time growing closer himself to the plain but resourceful Lady Hester. Ever such a complicated plot, but a lovely escapist read.

Jill Paton Walsh – Goldengrove Unleaving

(16 August 2011 – charity shop)

A pair of linked YA novellas. The first is a somewhat classic seaside/Cornwall/family secrets novel, with a pair of cousins staying at their grandmother’s house and a slow awakening to reality and life. The second book is more ambitious, with a multi-layered time scheme overlapping and aiming to confuse and intrigue, with some insertions of philosophy which are done pretty successfully. I did skim a little bit (even though I was concentrating on reading it on an exercise bike at the gym!) and it left me a little bit cold, somehow. I think I want to like these books so much that they would always let me down a little … ?

Georgette Heyer – Sylvester

Back to the omnibus (which has to stay at home as it’s a big one) and the rather marvellous eponymous hero meets his match in the redoutable Phoebe, erstwhile novelist, who has unfortunately put him in her book. His nephew, Edmund, is beautifully done, and there’s a fop, a sea voyage, a chase, and lots of aunts and godmothers – what’s not to like?!

A quick note on Kiva

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As we all know by now, I like to be able to “give back”, whether that’s through sharing my experiences here, those of others on my Freelancer / Small Business interviews over on the Libroediting main blog, helping out at Social Media Surgeries or giving start-ups an hour or so of my time for free.

Another thing I like doing is giving people Kiva loans. Kiva is a charity that helps people to seed small businesses, mainly in developing countries. They work with organisations in the various countries who assess the people seeking money, and then basically crowdsource the funding to get the business going, or expanding. You can choose the type of people you want to give to (women, groups … ), the area of business they’re in and the country, and then browse through people to donate to.

The best thing is, it’s a loan. So your money does come back to you in instalments, and then you can lend it to someone else! We’re on our second and third loans now, so we know it works. It’s such a great idea and now Kiva have come up with a voucher so you can try it for free. I imagine it’s first come, first served, but here’s my voucher link – have a go! And do, please, let me know how you get on and if you go on to fund someone else.

Book reviews: The Information Diet and A View of the Harbour


Clay Johnson – The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption

(6 March 2012)

I won this book on the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme, but in ebook form. Unfortunately, I missed the 2 week window that was available for downloading the book. But very kindly, chazzard took pity on me and sent me their copy so I could still fulfil my reviewing requirements.

I obviously thought this was going to be interesting, as I selected it to request. And the idea that we’re suffering from information obesity, consuming information and data passively like we gulp down calories thoughtlessly was interesting. But I am not sure who the audience is. Yes, there are some good basic tips on consuming information in a more conscious way: being active in your choices of what to consume; seeking a balance; looking at other viewpoints. The information on personalisation is, again, interesting, although I think we have self-selected this in the past, much like we select books and friends that match our interests, and I am certainly aware that it’s happening, just as I’m aware that content farms exist and how they work. The tips on becoming more information literate and on time management to avoid time wasting, again, are useful. But I have a sneaking suspicion that the people who are attracted to this book – like me – are also likely to be fairly information literate in the first place, possibly working in an information related field. Erm, like a trained librarian working as a writer and editor, working a great deal with web content and marketing materials and using social media to drive her business forward …

So, I think that the potential audience will maybe not pick up this book, and the people who will may well know about a lot of the topics and ideas already. I think this slight book might have been better off as a long article in a serious but popular magazine.

But I’m grateful to the publisher for trying to send it to me, and chazzard for doing so!

Elizabeth Taylor – A View of the Harbour

Third in our Elizabeth Taylor readalong in the LibraryThing Virago group and an enjoyable read again. We’re in a faded seaside town (my favourite kind) where so little happens that the inhabitants have to make up things that happen. I was reminded of a Francis Brett Young (someone will be along to remind me which one – the one in the street that’s based on Chaddesley Corbett) and also is it a Storm Jameson I’ve read recently with two rivalrous female authors? Also a touch of Under Milk Wood in the lyrical descriptions, views through lit windows in the evening and the skipping between different characters and their experiences.

It’s a bit disturbing as well, what with the creepy waxworks, Bertram “insinuating” himself and Prudence lugging her cats around, cooking truly awful things for them, but being unable to cope with the everyday world around her – a bit of the gothics here, I feel.

I liked Beth’s readings of the male-female dynamic, especially in terms of writers and careers, both in her beady thoughts about the man on the train and her sudden cutting through Robert’s personality and actions. And I loved the touches of irony: Beth writes many funerals into her books but has never actually attended one.

As usual, I’m not sure that Taylor really likes any of her characters, and nor are they very likeable (apart, perhaps, from the excellent children, Stevie and Edward) but that doesn’t matter to me, as I enjoy her cool appraisal of them and their lives – Tory’s disappointment when Beth’s publisher turns out to be a woman; a series of insane hats; the minutiae of small town life that can destroy a reputation in a matter of hours. A good read.

Kings Heath home workers’ support group?


I should explain that I wrote a post from a slightly different angle on this subject, deleted it after realising it was a little misjudged, but have rejigged my idea slightly. So, here goes …

When you work at home, sometimes you need to get out, maybe see some other familiar faces, have a moan or a celebrate or a chat or just get away from that desk. But you might not want to get all dressed up and off into town for one of the myriad co-working and networking events that go on there if you live in a suburb like, for example, Kings Heath.

Meetups like Jelly, Social Media Cafe, Entrepreneurs Meetup etc. are great, but they’re once a month and you do still need to be on networking behaviour rather than hair standing on end / in tracksuit bottoms behaviour. Organisations like the Moseley Exchange are great if you want to go and co-work with other people. Not that I’m suggesting we all lurch up the High Street like a bunch of zombies, without our laptops, but I think there may be a need for a more relaxed, local get together for people who work from home / run small businesses etc.

So, here’s my idea:

  • We have a designated cafe and a designated time. Say Costa in Kings Heath, 11-12 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.
  • No one HAS to be there. There’s not an organiser who’s going to be there every time. It’s just a space if people need it.
  • But that’s the time when you can go and get out of the office, see if anyone’s around, or just meet other home workers, small business people etc., not in an “impressing, networky” sort of way, but an honest “Phew – a sit down looking at a real person” sort of way. If you want to dress up, fine; if you want to show up in your pajamas, also fine.
  • There might not be anyone else there: but then at least you’ve got out of the house, and that’s something we all need to do from time to time!
  • You can send out a message on Facebook or Twitter saying you’re going and is anyone else but it’s not like begging people to come and meet you as a one-off or an overly formal arrangement, because it’s an established, informal pattern that’s already vaguely set up.

I’d love to know what you think, whether you’re local and want to give me ideas of when and where and who, or you’re not local but you’d do it if you were. Some questions to look at …

  • Where?
  • When?
  • How often?
  • Do we want to set up a Facebook group or Twitter something (hashtag, list?) to help people see who else is going?
  • Any other thoughts?

I hope this is a useful idea for people – let me know!

STOP PRESS we have a Facebook group now.


We appear to have featured on a podcast, although I have no idea how they picked up on this rather elderly post – they are complimentary and I have got in touch to say thank you, so I thought I should provide an update:

This idea turned into a Facebook group which is solely used for arranging meetups, and a meetup at a local cafe approximately once a month. We’re made up of translators, editors and writers in the main, with a film maker too, and of course others are welcome to join. We do have a little moan over a coffee, and some of us meet up at other times, too. I also started a private Facebook group called Editors’ Rah and Argh which is a safe place for fellow editors to share things good and bad and make each other laugh and/or feel better. These and other friends I chat to on Facebook chat and Twitter give me the “water cooler” time it turns out we all need!

Book Review: Fiona Joseph – Beatrice: The Cadbury Heiress who Gave Away her Fortune


Fiona Joseph – Beatrice: the Cadbury Heiress who Gave Away her Fortune

(given to me by the author Feb 2012)

** STOP PRESS – this book is now available to buy in Waterstones Birmingham (both branches), Wolverhampton, Redditch and Walsall **

Fiona started off in education but has branched out into non-fiction writing and this is her new book, available in print and in a Kindle edition.

I do like a biography, and I like a local history book even more, so this was a good combination for me. We are taken all the way through Beatrice’s long life, from a privileged upbringing as one of the Cadbury family of South Birmingham (although, true to their philanthropic and Quaker roots, she was exposed to poverty, its causes and its alleviation early on), through a dawning political and social consciousness, to her marriage and espousal of more and more outlandish concepts, including attempting to give her “unearned” inheritance back to the Cadbury workers and even giving up money, for a while. In a pertinent echo of the Occupy and other social movements happening now, but in an era when such actions, especially by the upper or more wealthy classes were seen as hugely unusual, she and her husband, Kees Boeke, protested against two World Wars, were arrested and imprisoned, refused to pay their taxes, kept open house, ran a school on new educational principles, were nearly executed for helping Jewish refugees, and all the while, Beatrice was popping out child after child: eight in all.

I have to say that I particularly enjoyed the parts set in Birmingham, because I live close to the locations involved and it was lovely to read about how they were used and how the families lived in them. But it was also very interesting to see exactly what happens when you try to live by your principles, when you open your house to all and sundry; and the support of Beatrice’s family by the Boeke Committee was heartwarming and a little bit amusing to read about.

The author does not adopt a hagiographical attitude to her subject, being honest about the effect her principles had on her family. The book is meticulously researched and written in a lively fashion that really engages us with the subject and her wider family and times. I was predisposed to enjoy this book, given its subject matter. I don’t automatically like and give glowing reviews to books that are given to me by the author or publisher, having principles of my own which involve being honest – but I can honestly say that I loved this book: I will be buying another copy to share via BookCrossing, and I urge locals and non-locals who are interested in social and political principles and protest, social history or just people, to read this book.

There’s more about the book on Fiona’s web page and it will be stocked in Waterstones Birmingham soon.