Writing books

I have a vast collection of books on the topics of writing and editing. I’ve been writing reviews of them on my business blog, and it struck me that regular readers here might be interested in them too.

This is my latest review. There are previous ones available on there too. Some are designed to help you structure your writing, while others are there to help you strengthen the writing and improve your range of description.




M is for money

I have to admit, money is something that’s on my mind a lot these days. A year ago, I took the decision to give up a steady income because I decided I valued my self-respect and mental health better. For the past few months I’ve been working on building up my own business offering educational and publishing services.

It’s been going okay. It’s had its ups and downs. I knew it would be tough to start with, but right now I’m locked into a couple of things that will pay but in the long run not immediately, limiting my ability to earn money for right now, and I hate having to ask for money.

So things like a fence round the allotment have to take a low priority, and I’m slowly working through my savings and celebrating every invoice I send off. I need to work on marketing, but until I get this current project sent off I don’t have time to take on anything else anyway.

So I guess I’ll continue to work, and things will continue building up, until I reach a more comfortable level. And in the meantime I’ll continue reminding myself that money isn’t everything.

Anyone need an editor/proofreader? One who’s happy to work with all sorts of writing projects, fiction or non-fiction?


Time for business

I’m just back from holiday (workhouse-related news from that in another post) and now it’s time to throw myself into the business. As I’ve said before, I’m setting up a business to provide publishing and educational services, which means copyediting, proofreading, technical writing and tutoring.

I’m confident I can do this, but as part of my plans I’ve paid out for a couple of training courses. This will provide concrete evidence for myself and for clients that I can do the job properly, and check whether there’s anything I don’t know I don’t know (always the most dangerous of ignorances!). It’s also part of the process of becoming accredited by the main professional body.

I checked up whether there was any issue in taking both courses at once, and was told basically it depends on the individual, so I was a little irritated to receive a phone call after signing up, saying that they usually recommend deferring one until the other is finished. This seems a little odd when they already warn it can take around four weeks between sending off an assignment and getting feedback and the materials for the next, on a course that is described as taking several months, and annoyed me no end when it contradicted the advice already received from them!

I know I’m not doing all this in the best way: I don’t have the luxury of training at a slow and steady rate and then building the business up bit by bit. Circumstances have put me in a position where I need to be up and running as soon as I can, and I’m doing this the best way I can find.

It feels like I have several irons in the fire at the moment, and I’m not entirely sure what the business will look like in a year’s time. That’s not to say I don’t have a plan; I’ve been self employed and running my own business, or working more or less independently within an organisation, for far longer than I’ve been working as one small cog in a very large machine, so I’m not worried about that aspect of things at all. I’m making sure I do the right sort of training so I can provide proof I’m accredited. I have short-, medium- and long-term plans. I know what areas I need to be concerned about, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

While I enjoyed my holiday, I’m now happy that it’s time to start putting things into motion and taking control of my time and my work life. Okay, and time to tidy my desk and bookshelves too, I admit. Meanwhile, there’s my beta reading to work on, and anyone need a proofreader?



Plan for the first week

I still have two weeks and one day until the end of term, but things are definitely easing a little. I’ve had my first “last” (last time of teaching a particular group of students), and I should have a bunch more lasts next week, plus our sports day. The following week is mostly trips and fun activities rather than proper teaching.

Term finishes on Monday lunchtime (yes, a very odd time!) so I’ve already started to think about how I’ll spend the rest of that week, being the first week of a new way of life.

I think Monday afternoon will probably be spent vegging out and playing computer games. It definitely won’t be spent the same way as I spent the afternoon last time school term finished at lunchtime, which was going into town to video the area for the kids’ coursework and being embarrassed publicly by the behaviour of some of our younger kids in the main street and in the car-park where they were hanging out.

Tuesday I’ll go for a run (but not too early!), then I’ll do some tidying and organising in the house. In the afternoon I’ll be working some more on the proofreading course I’m doing. This is proving very useful, by the way – by showing that I can do the job, by showing that I need to re-sensitise myself to the tiniest errors after years of having to turn a blind eye to all but the very worst, and by showing that I do need to learn aspects such as correct mark-up and business aspects of the job.

On Wednesday I’m planning what I hope will be the first of many visits to the Historical Records Centre, to find out what I can about some of the workhouse inmates in my research. I’ll probably have a late lunch somewhere in Maidstone and then call in Hobbycraft before I come home.

On Thursday it will be another run, more housework/admin tasks, and then the afternoon looking through business stuff or doing the proofreading course if it’s not finished by then.

On Friday I’ll be doing a coding project in the morning, and then maybe getting the paints out in the afternoon. While I have the chance, and not much work to do, I want to make Friday my fun day. I’ll also be fitting in research on the workhouse whenever I can.

There’s no point in trying to drum up business for myself until after our week away, so the time before then will be spent chilling out, getting fit and getting ready for business, making sure I’m as prepared as I can be for the work ahead.

Looking forward to being back in control again.


It’s not fear of failure

A thought suddenly occurred to me today as I tried to figure out why I was sitting around wasting time. I always thought that the reason I’m afraid to make the effort sometimes is fear of failure, but that’s not it at all. I’ve attempted some things in my time that have failed, and I’m quite happy to admit they’re a failure and move on – just like another way not to make a lightbulb, it’s just another learning point on the road of life.

What I am afraid of is ridicule. Of failing spectacularly and being laughed at for it, or for thinking I’m doing well and then having others laughing at my pathetic efforts.

I’ve been thinking back to an episode at school, where I’d made an effort for once to present my work properly, only to have the teacher ridicule my efforts in front of the whole class and encourage them to laugh too. I would never join in team games with the youth club, because I was afraid not only that I’d muck up but that I’d be laughed at. I think this could be a reason I avoid writing groups as well.

This is also the reason why I’ll sit and watch someone else doing something rather than take over, unless I’m sure they can’t do it. However much I think I can do a good job of it, I’d rather not take the risk unless it’s necessary.

Just because I don’t do it, don’t assume I can’t. In secondary school we had swimming lessons in an outside pool. It was freezing cold, and it would always take me a large part of the lesson to get into the water. As a result, I would be one of those at the shallow end, and I’m sure my teacher thought I couldn’t swim very well. In the end the thought consumed me until the point I threw a major paddy because I would miss the last swimming lesson of the year because of a piano lesson. To this day I don’t know how they knew or why they helped, but someone offered to swap with me, and I went to that swimming lesson, went to the deep end and got right in and was swimming and diving with the top swimmers. I don’t remember the teacher’s response at all, but I had proved that I could do it and I felt pretty satisfied over it.

This is where this business of “everything comes down to you and how you handle it, not down to other people” becomes dangerous to me. Because I usually interpret that as the other person always being right unless they’re proved wrong, and I can take a lot of convincing that the other person is in the wrong before I’ll stop blaming myself and start thinking maybe I just have to let things go. When you’re permanently convinced that if anything goes wrong it must be your fault, it’s hard to want to stick your neck out.

Now I’m about to start heading off into my own business, I need to get over this and be prepared to put myself out there. I need to be convinced myself that it’s something I can do well (most of the time I am), and I need to be prepared to convince other people as well. And before I can get down to that properly I have six weeks of work, followed a couple of weeks later by a week’s booked holiday, which makes it very hard to do anything until they’re out of the way.

I’d like to use the next few months to get back to studying, as well, to finish off a qualification I’m halfway through and which would look good on my personal description for my business. Trouble is, that would take a lot of money, which I really don’t have to spare right now. So I’ve bought a couple of lottery tickets, and will be looking for other ways to magic up two and a half grand over the next couple of months. Not seriously, because it’s not essential – if it were, I would be able to find the money somehow – but if such an exact lump of money does miraculously fall into my hands I’ll know how fate wants me to use it, put it that way 😉

So there’s plenty to be done, I just need to figure out my way into it. Which means that if I’m tempted to sit doing nothing I’ll get a notebook or keyboard out instead and start writing until I’ve figured out what to tackle next. I think I’ll make that my shiny sink, something to focus on to help organise my mind. (Shiny sink is a flylady reference: focusing down on one task and doing it thoroughly, rather than panicking on everything around you and getting nowhere).

I also need to remember that if people do laugh and mock at me failing then that’s them being out of order, not me, because the best type of people will be along side me helping me, or cheering me on. Only the nasty ones will take any kind of satisfaction in my failure.