Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Fun: Of Eggs and Expectations for 2012

Image: Simon Howden /

I love eggs. I sometimes say I could eat them every day, but that's not really true; sometimes I contemplate scrambling up a couple, then realize I'm just not in the mood. But I am always in the mood for deliciously image-rich writing, and that's just what Janet A. Zimmerman serves up in this great piece on poaching eggs. A couple of grade-A quotes:

It's this thin white that dances its tarantella in the poaching liquid and makes your poached egg splay like the wild hair of a crazy scientist. 

Besides, it's really cool to watch an egg expel a jet of tiny gas bubbles and break the water's surface like a miniature submarine.

I've never poached an egg, but now I almost feel as if I have, or could. I love writing that makes me feel as if I have been somewhere I may never go, or done something I don't have the courage to do. (I count egg poaching among these things. I am not the swiftest or most coordinated cook, and I hate to waste food.)

What have you read recently that has taken you on a journey to another place, be it exotic or mundane?


It has been a very good year for Transformations Editing. I've worked with new clients and tried my hand at new kinds of work, including editing professional training materials and policy briefs and proofreading academic journal articles.

I'd like to do at least as much business in 2012, but things may slow down a bit toward mid-year: if the stars align correctly, Transformations Editing will be relocating. Preparing for a move will mean less time at the computer and proofing table for a while, but don't worry--I will be back, and even better able to serve you from (presumably) much-improved digs.

But all that is months away. For now, the beginning of next year promises to be as busy as the end of this one, but please contact me regarding any editing or proofreading work that will begin in January or later.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Progress toward Freelancing Goals: Third-Quarter Roundup

I just realized that the end of the third quarter is nigh. It's a good time to take stock of how Transformations Editing's business year has gone so far.

Last year, I set quarterly income goals and put them in my project tracking spreadsheet. I exceeded my first-quarter goal and was terribly proud of myself. I was cautiously optimistic about meeting the rest of my goals for the year. However, after a quarter so dry that virtual tumbleweeds blew across my monitor, I figured it was best to suspend quarterly goal setting for 2011. I just couldn't set myself up for that kind of disappointment again.

It was a pleasant surprise when 2011 started off well. I welcomed a new editing client, and another major client's publishing schedule picked up, sending lots of proofreading work my way. In the second quarter, I began working with a new proofreading client, and I took on a major writing/editing project that provided significant income for both that quarter and this one.

Key to my increased workload is expanding my reach with existing clients. For example, I now proofread journal articles for one of my "book clients," and I've edited training manuals for two departments I hadn't worked with before at another longtime "book client."

Other signs of progress: I've been working nearly nonstop this year and have not been able to accept all of the work I've been offered. I have acquired three new clients and am hoping to begin working with a fourth later this year. (Two of them found me through my Editorial Freelancers Association profile. If you are a freelancer but not a member of EFA, consider joining. Setting up a profile is simple, "passive" marketing that should eventually yield new business.)

I'm feeling positive about Transformations Editing's trajectory. I hope that 2012 is an even stronger year.

Freelancers, how has your year gone so far? Do you set quarterly goals and reassess at the end of each quarter?

Monday, August 1, 2011


... means vacation, and that's what I--and Transformations Editing--will be doing starting late this week, after I finish editing a book and proofreading a journal article. I'll be away from the computer and the red pencil through at least Wednesday, August 10 (and possibly through the end of that week).

I'm thankful to have terrific clients who have kept me very busy this year. Now it's time for a break. I hope you too have found, or will find, time this summer to just chill.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who Supports You as a Freelancer?

In this list of 10 "surprising but essential tips for freelancing", writer David Hochman suggests that freelancers "make an appointment to see one person who’s been really supportive of your work." That got me thinking: who in my life is "really supportive" of my editing, proofreading, and writing career?

I'm lucky to have a supportive spouse. He often tells people he meets that I'm a freelance editor and even hands out my business card, he tolerates my propensity to work bizarre hours, and he's (mostly) accepted the ups and downs in my income. He even knows quite a bit about managing a business.

But I can't say that I have my own freelancing cheerleader/mentor, the sort of person who's been where I have and who I can turn to with professional questions. I do have some wonderful clients--people who've referred me to others, encouraged me, and given me great tips on style issues--but I've long felt that a client is a client, not a career coach (and definitely not a therapist!). Where do I draw the line? Well, I think it's a good idea to ask clients for referrals, and it's fine to admit to a longtime client that you're going through a dry spell and will take whatever work he's able to give you. But I wouldn't tell a client that that dry spell is making me question whether I'm really cut out to be a freelancer, admit that her latest project is giving me nightmares, or ask her to describe the trajectory of her career in detail.

With clients, I think a certain level of professional detachment is necessary. With supporters, this is not so. In a mutually supportive relationship, you should be able to freely share the woes and triumphs of your career and rely on one another to give solid advice. A relationship like this would indeed be valuable, but I sense that such connections are hard to find. I suspect it's even harder to build such a relationship locally. As much as I'd like to meet up with an editing friend over lunch or tea, I don't necessarily think it's realistic to expect to find one.

Am I being too pessimistic? Do you have supporters or a mentor, and if so, how did you meet? How have your supporters guided you and helped shape your freelance career?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Write Gaddafi, You Write Qadhafi

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's treatment of his country's people is far from funny, but we word nerds may be amused by the seemingly infinite ways in which media outlets have spelled his name. The Wikipedia page on Gaddafi claims that as many as 112 variants exist. These include:
  • Muammar Gaddafi (used by TIME magazine, BBC News, most British press, the English service of Al-Jazeera) 
  • Moammar Gadhafi (Associated Press, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News)
  • Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi (U.S. Department of State)
  • Muammar el-Qaddafi (the White House, New York Times)
  • Moammar Kadafi (Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times)
The possibilities are summarized in this handy chart, also from Wikipedia.

How about Qezzaffy? No, I'm certain it's Khudhdhafy.

    Reportedly, the dictator writes his own name "Moammar El-Gadhafi."

    Why doesn't a single standard spelling exist? In short, Arabic words are pronounced differently in different regions. These variations lead to variations in transliteration. Simple enough; what's more remarkable is that the American media and even the U.S. government have chosen so many different spellings to represent the name, and that no one spelling has been chosen as the "standard" in the 40+ years Gaddafi's been in power. In fact, the debate over how to spell his name has been raging since at least the eighties.

    The question is, then, why each organization has chosen the spelling it has. Are there legitimate arguments for picking any one over the others? (I chose "Gaddafi" because it's relatively phonetic--to my ear, anyway--and thus easy for me to remember.)

    Know something about orthography or setting style standards? Has your organization had to pick a spelling of The Name? Comment and let me know.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011