The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Too honest for my own good?

I've just posted off a cheque to one of the publishers I work for to pay back money they'd overpaid me. It was an invoice towards the end of last year that got lost in the system. When I chased it up, there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing via email and somehow, it ended up being paid twice. Yes, I did consider just keeping quiet and hoping they wouldn't notice, but somehow it just didn't feel right.

The relationship between a freelancer and the publishers they work for is very much based on trust. We rarely have proper written contracts for the work we do, so we have to trust the in-house editor to send us the work they've promised and they have to trust us to do it. And apart from the odd delay here and there, I haven't been majorly let down by anyone I work with in nearly 12 years of freelancing. So I figured it's really not worth breaking that trust now.

The accounts dept did offer to put a credit note on their system and take the money off the next job I do for them. But somehow the prospect of "working for nothing" at some point along the line felt like it'd be a bit demotivating! Better to pay the money straight back and just pretend it never went into my account.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Uncomfortable media attention

Living just round the corner from the Bristol BBC TV studios, you get used to seeing the local news presenters around and it's not unusual to see your street on Points West when there's lots of snow or whatever. But over the past couple of days, I've found my street at the centre of a real news story. Early yesterday morning, the latest suspect in the Jo Yeates murder case was arrested in a flat on my road and since then, that section of the street (the next block) has been cordoned off and swarming with police and news vans.

Oddly, I didn't actually notice it yesterday, because of a big tree blocking my view of that end of the road! But after I'd been told about it, then seen it on the news, today, I seem to have seen nothing but police cars going up and down the road. It's quite difficult to know what to feel about it ... one of my first reactions is to be excited to see my street on the telly, but somehow, that doesn't feel quite appropriate. Similarly, I'm rather tempted to walk to Sainsbury's the wrong way round the block just to go past, but is that just voyeurism? It definitely all feels a bit odd and vaguely uncomfortable.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Pano chocolate"

I always feel a slight moment of dilemma when faced with buying one of my favourite pastries. It's one thing asking for a "pain au chocolat" - pronounced with a subtle French accent - when you're in a fancy deli, but it always sounds a bit poncy when you're in a caff at a train station! I occasionally try asking for a "chocolate croissant" instead (pronouncing the t at the end of both words!), but that sometimes just leads to confusion - especially with a non-native English speaking assistant who only knows what it says on the labels.

So it made me smile this morning when I went into a cafe round the corner (neither a posh deli nor a greasy caff) and noticed on the board "pano chocolate" - an amusing error or an intentional compromise? I'd like to think the latter.

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Happy New Year!

I got back this week from a Christmas/New Year trip to Cambodia (above at Angkor Wat) and I've spent a couple of days trying to get over the jet lag and pottering about; doing lots of washing, sorting out photos, dealing with my inbox and sending out a few work messages. It's also inevitably a time for thinking back and looking forward ...

Highlights of 2010
  • 2010 started with the publication of Global which had been a big feature of my working year in 2009. There was the launch at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in February and then in November, the trip to Buckingham Palace to pick up the ESU award for the e-workbook along with several of my Global co-writers - a day to remember!
  • The summer saw the publication of the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English - the first big native speaker dictionary project I've worked on, so an exciting milestone.
  • This year's big project though was work on the Collins COBUILD Key Words for IELTS books. It was, in many ways, a dream project for me, combining my lexicography skills with my recent interest in EAP and IELTS. The project also marked a bit of a step forward in career terms as I was working as senior editor for the three books; a challenging, but really interesting experience.
Resolutions for 2011

Well, there's only one really and that's to break out of the cycle of getting involved in one big project in the year that ends up being more work than I can cope with in the time available, so that my RSI flares up really badly, leaving me in lots of pain and frustrated, and then having to take time off to recover. I don't want to give up those 'big' projects, because they're usually the most interesting. But there really has to be a way of working that means that I can control my hours and work through something at a reasonable pace - as opposed to the usual promises to start on a particular date which then moves and moves and moves, until I'm left with the same amount of work to do (and usually more than expected) in half the amount of time!

So here's looking forward to an interesting, productive and sensibly-paced year ahead in 2011.

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