Life’s better with a buddy

Laptop and paperI’m an introvert. I did an online test once and it said I am 3% extroverted and 97% introverted. That seems fair. (It was this test, if you are interested.) However, I still understand the isolation that can come with working from home or alone in an office. It can sap your confidence and make it hard to maintain your motivation.

In a quest to make sure that I still had some social skills, I joined the nearest Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) local group for a lunch meeting. I came away from that lunch with the feeling that I had finally found my people. It was great to be able to speak to people with a lot of the same concerns as me, and who had been through a lot of the same experiences on the journey to becoming a fully fledged editorial professional. Not only that but they were friendly and kind and welcoming.

I had colleagues to speak to now, but that was every other month. I still spent much of my working time with a feeling of having no connection to other people in my field. The SfEP forums are great, and Twitter fills some of the social void, but it was still easy to get caught up inside my own head.

There had been a discussion at one of the local SfEP meetings about accountability groups: a group of individuals who share their goals, report back to each other and keep each other on track. That felt a bit too big for me, so instead I sought out a buddy. I knew if I told someone I was going to do something, instead of keeping it to myself, I’d be much more likely to do it. Luckily, my new buddy felt the same way.

We send an email every morning with our goals for the day and then send another email in the evening to report on what we achieved. We’ve been doing that since March. In that time I have:

  • Passed the SfEP basic editorial test
  • Upgraded to professional membership of the SfEP
  • Become one of the coordinators for the West Surrey and North Hampshire local group
  • Worked on 16 projects – 12 of those books
  • Gained a new publisher client.

I wouldn’t have done all that if I didn’t have my buddy keeping me accountable, telling me I could do it (particularly in the case of the editorial test!), and sharing her knowledge. We were at the same level of training and experience when we started, and we have progressed together. We both have someone to support us and tell us when we are worrying for no reason. We both have someone we can ask questions we think might be silly. We both have someone to talk to who understands our work and our processes. We’ve become more than buddies; we are friends. Our emails are now just as much about our cats and what we are having for dinner as they are about work.

Our buddy arrangement has been one of the best decisions I have made since becoming a freelance proofreader. If you would like to give it a try, find someone and ask them. There’s a good chance they feel as isolated as you do.

(This blog post only exists because I told my buddy I would write a blog post today.)

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Velleity

WishHere’s a word that probably should be used more often. It tends to pop up in philosophical texts, but I think most people have experienced velleity. It certainly strikes a chord with me…

A velleity is a “wish or inclination not strong enough to lead to action” (Oxford Dictionaries). It means to will or desire without actually making an effort to act on that will or desire.

It stems from the Latin word velle, which means ‘to wish’. Use of velleity appears to have been fairly common in the 17th century, and the OED gives its first recorded usage as in 1624 (although it was spelled velleitie). This usage is a little more modern:

“I am finding that I have more and more velleities these days, and one of them is the velleity to travel, a hopeless longing to just peregrinate off somewhere.”

– Sam Savage, Glass, 2011


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‘Carat’ and ‘carrot’

Carat and carrot are, of course, homophones. And this means that phrases such as ’24-carrot gold’ are commonplace. It’s an amusing mistake, but not when someone else finds it in your writing.

CarrotsCarat

  • (or karat) a measure of the purity of gold
  • a unit of weight of precious stones

Carrot

  • tapering root vegetable (often orange in colour)
  • the plant that produces carrots
  • something offered as an incentive or a means of persuasion

My tip: carrots are root vegetables (and they will rot).


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

 

Notes from a proofreader: check for these words

WARNING: This post contains language some readers may find offensive. But we’re all adults, right?

You learn a lot when you work in the editorial profession. I’ve proofread texts on subjects from self-hypnosis to the Industrial Revolution, and they’ve all taught me something new. Some of the things I have learnt are very specific in nature, but some are more general and it is those I am planning to share on my blog.

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A big clock. Image: Pixabay

This post is about words you should probably do a global search for before you declare your editing and proofreading process complete. I knew about some of these from my training, but they pop up in real life with alarming regularity. “What are you on about, Hannah?” I hear you say. Well, I’m talking about misspelling words such as public, count and shirt. Leave a letter out of one of those and the result is a tad embarrassing. And it happens. I’ve seen it in real proofs for real books.

This isn’t an exhaustive list,  but I’ll add to it as I discover more. I suggest adding a global search for these words to your list of editing and proofreading tasks:

  • Cock (when you meant clock)
  • Cunt (when you really, really meant count)
  • Fag (instead of flag)
  • Poof (when it should have been proof – particularly a danger if you write proofreader a lot)
  • Pubic (when you meant public)
  • Shit (instead of shirt)

Obviously, you will sometimes deliberately use those words, but coming across an unintended use of pubic is never ideal. They are hard to spot because they are so similar to the intended word and we often read what we expect to be there, not what is actually there. Our brains will just fill in the missing letter. Spellcheck is not going to flag these errors for your attention, so checking for them is something you need to do manually (unless you have specialist software to do it for you). And if you only check one (although I’m not sure why you would only do one) it should be pubic. That one likes to pop up quite often.

Are there any words with missing letters that have left you red-faced? Let me know in the comments!

I’m still here

“I’m so busy” is something I have been saying a lot over the last few months. It started out as a joke with my mum, because she knows I have had some months of little or no work. So when I say “I’m so busy”, it’s not a complaint – I am delighted that I seem, finally, to be attracting a decent amount work. But it is my excuse for the lack of recent blog posts. I am still here, although I am usually to be found on Twitter. I’ve been taking part in #HampshireHour every Tuesday (apart from the one evening I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2), which is fabulous for local networking. I’ve met some lovely people. I also attend my local SfEP meetings and they have been a brilliant source of motivation and encouragement.

OscarMost of my recent work has been on books for publishers, but I’ve also worked with an independent author and on online content for a local business. I love the variety. The books have included memoirs, children’s fiction and a short story collection. I started out by specialising in non-fiction, but my fiction titles are adding up now (five at the time of writing). I didn’t expect to branch into fiction so quickly, but I’m enjoying it.

I was joined by a new editorial assistant in February. He isn’t very helpful: he tries to chew my pens, he likes to sit on my laptop, and he knocks everything off my desk. But he’s a sweetheart and his paws are usually clean before he sits on the proofs. (Don’t worry – he only sits on my printouts and not the publisher’s copies.)

I hope, now I am adjusting to being “busy”, to be able to blog regularly again and to catch up on some of the wonderful blogs I follow.

All the best, and please feel free to say hi!

‘Hoarse’ and ‘horse’

I can’t remember ever seeing hoarse used when the writer actually meant horse (e.g. “I’m going to turn out my hoarse”) but it does seem common the other way round (e.g. “sorry, I’ve gone a bit horse”). That’s all the excuse I need to write a post that enables me to use a magnificent image of a magnificent animal.

Hoarse

  • (of a voice) rough, harsh and/or unclear
  • having a rough, harsh and/or unclear voiceHorse in water

Horse

  • a solid-hoofed, four-legged domesticated mammal with a mane and tail
  • a frame or structure used to support or mount something or someone
  • to provide someone or something with a horse (or horses)

My tip: hoarse is often harsh.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

Noctambulate

starry-nightDo you enjoy going for a stroll at night-time? I do; there’s nothing quite like taking a walk under a starry sky on a quiet evening.

This week’s interesting word is an easier way of saying ‘to walk at night’: noctambulate. It hasn’t fallen completely out of use in the English language but it is fairly rare.

Noctambulate can also be used to refer to sleep walking. Nocti- means ‘of, at or relating to night’ and ambulate means ‘to walk’ or ‘to move about’.

The OED records the first usage as in 1955. However, the words noctambulation and noctambulist are much older (both early 18th century). Noctambulation means the action of walking at night, while a noctambulist is a person who walks at night.

“I rarely did this, but now and then I would noctambulate through the city, where the lights were going off, or had long since gone…”

– Howard Spring, These Lovers Fled Away, 1955


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‘Principal’ and ‘principle’

Principal and principle are homophones. I’ve come across principal misused more often than principle, but it’s common to get them both confused. Principle is usually a noun but principal can be an adjective or a noun.

Principal

  • first in order of importance or value
  • lady-justicethe most important or senior person in an organisation

Principle

  • a fundamental truth, proposition, rule or law
  • a moral rule or set of such morals
  • a general scientific theorem or law
  • a fundamental source or basis of something

My tip: principal is spelled with an a, which is the first letter in the alphabet – and a principle is often a rule.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary (2009)
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

Mubblefubbles

Have you ever felt in low spirits and struggled to find an appropriate word to describe how you feel? I would like to suggest mubblefubbles as an option. It is considered to be obsolete but I think it’s a suitably expressive word for a difficult to verbalise feeling.

Mubblefubbledark-cloudss means a state of depression, melancholy or despondency. It’s quite often used in the form of to be in (or out of) one’s mubblefubbles.

The OED’s first recorded usage is from 1589 but the word’s origins are unclear. It could be imitative and I suspect the alternative form mumblefubbles may support this idea.

“‘I never used to be so full of the mubblefubbles,’ he told me wryly. ‘So fearful, so bitter—but the days when I was—when I was myself—seem so long ago that I can hardly remember them.'”

– Nancy Springer, The Golden Swan, 2014


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‘Descent’ and ‘dissent’

Descent and dissent are homophones that may just be a tad topical. It’s definitely worth knowing the difference.

descentDescent

  • the act of moving downwards, falling or dropping; a decline
  • the origin or background of a person (in terms of family or nationality)
  • a sudden attack or unexpected visit (descent on)

Dissent

  • the holding or expression of opinions that differ from those commonly or officially held
  • to hold or express opinions that differ from those commonly or officially held

My tip: to dissent is usually to disagree.


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