Levelling Up

Hi there. It’s been a while, huh? I hope everything’s still going well with you.

I’ve been in a bit of a transition period here at The Fine-toothed Comb. Levelling up, you might say.

2019 has been a tough year for me in many respects, but it’s also been my most successful in terms of the editing business. I’ve expanded my client base, heading out into new genres, new formats, and working with some exciting new publishers. I’ve gone international now, working for a Bulgarian computer games company one month and picking up an American job shortly after. I’ve even flown across to the lovely city of Dublin to attend my first WorldCon, and boy are my arms tired! My finances took an initial nosedive when I dropped a day at the Bank to get more editing done, but the extra work I’ve picked up seems to be making up for the loss – in opportunity, if not entirely in Pounds Sterling. I’ve even begun paying myself a wage now rather than blindly ploughing every penny back into the business.

So, yeah. Progress.

I’ve had some ups and downs on the mental health front. No shame in coming forward to say it. World events, domestic politics, personal and professional frustrations – they’ve all taken their toll on me. I’ve not been as attentive a husband, as available a father, as helpful a son as I would like to have been. It’s felt like my whole life has been on a see-saw and this year has been about trying to find a new sense of balance. The thought of letting anybody down fills me with dread. Nevertheless, I have come to accept that this precariousness will continue for another couple of years as I step away from the security (and gloomy prison) of my day-job into the bright but uncertain freedom of my editing life.

What has become abundantly clear is that I am moving in the right direction.

I am now in the position where I have clients queuing up for my services. I’ve had to restructure my work pattern to fit everybody in, working multiple gigs at once for maximum efficiency. It takes careful planning, forcing me to juggle priorities and be ultra-responsive but, you know what? I’m loving it. I’m loving the fact that I’m in demand. I’m loving the fact that the people I’m working for are showing real appreciation for my insights and encouragement.

And now – get this – I’m going to be running a workshop at the new Indie Fire convention. Fucking Hell. It’s almost like I’m a professional or something.

Look, I’m under no illusions; I’m still learning as I go. Sometimes it’s fragments of grammar-lore, or how to handle a difficult client. Sometimes it’s picking up a bit of honest-to-goodness business acumen from my brother or from my local Freelancer support group. As much as I want to help everybody, one of the toughest things I’ve had to learn is to properly value my time – and to defend it. That means turning away business if the standard of the manuscript is sub-par. (And yeah, that sometimes means having a difficult conversation and feeling like a proper piece of shit for a while.)

What is heartening, in this age of misrule, is the endless desire for creative people to put something new and wondrous into the world. I have met so many of you burning to write your next story, eager to inspire and entertain your readers, or simply just to challenge yourselves to do something bigger, better, more original than ever before. You try, you make mistakes, and you learn from them. And then you do it again. And again. And again.

Because life is all about levelling up.

Here’s to you, peeps. You are my inspiration.

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