The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


An article about typefaces and fonts just caught my eye on the BBC website - "Do typefaces really matter?" The article itself though was less interesting to me than the graphic that accompanied it, below:

It's not that choice of font doesn't interest me - I know it's very important and a fascinating area - it's just that I'm far more attracted by physical letters somehow. So, I thought I'd share a few that I have around my office:

A large cardboard Q on the stairs

A curly, lower case 'g'- the style I use in my own handwriting rather than the more conventional handwritten 'g'

Some of my own wooden printers' blocks - I won't spell out the full word here for fear of causing offence!

Rather annoyingly, this blog doesn't display in the font I create it in, so you can't see the distinction between the two g's I typed above. I really must go into the settings and get it changed some time ...

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

History repeating

Yesterday, there was a piece on the news about how new university graduates are struggling to find jobs because of the recession, which rather made me think of my own history repeating. I set off for university in 1987, at the height of the 80s boom. Growing up in Kent, I was surrounded at the time by young men in red braces with loadsamoney jobs in the City and, even at the end of my first year, I landed a summer job working in the computer room of a City bank earning what I think was probably more than I've earnt at any time since!

I graduated though in 1990 just as recession was kicking in and the well-paid, graduate job I'd imagined had vanished into thin air. Like many of my peers, my answer to the situation was to change tack and go off and do other things for a few years - in my case teaching English abroad. I suppose in hindsight, I could blame the fact that my career hasn't really followed a very conventional path and that I've managed to reach my 40s without ever having had a 'proper' well-paid job, a pension, a mortgage, etc on the timing of my birth and the economic cycle. But I wouldn't change all the experiences and adventures I've had along the way nor where it's led me to in the end. Perhaps though I wouldn't recommend that new graduates today follow exactly the same path; because when I found the prospects in the UK unappealing, I headed for Greece!

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Coping with pressure

Over the ten years I've been freelancing and managing my RSI, I've more-or-less learnt not to let myself get too pressured into overworking. That's not to say that I don't have patches where I take on too much and overdo it, but I generally try to stick to the number of hours I've agreed to do and if deadlines are looming and I'm not going to make it, I just drop my editor an email saying the job's taking longer than expected. And although, of course, I like to meet deadlines where I can, because it's usually someone in-house who's waiting for the work, I don't stress myself too much if I'm a day or two late. After all, how often have I been kept waiting around for an in-house editor to send me stuff.

At the moment though, I find myself at a slightly different point in the chain. I'm editing work done by other freelancers and they're waiting on my feedback before they can carry on. And the whole dynamic seems to have shifted, the (self-imposed) pressure to turn things around quickly has ramped up and I've found myself putting in much longer hours than I should, just about holding things together with lots of painkillers. I know I should ease off and look after myself, but I can't quite help feeling guilty at leaving fellow freelancers hanging on for work.

Things aren't helped by the fact that I'm really enjoying the project, so it's difficult to be strict about hours. It's so tempting to do "just a bit more".

As the project's due to go on for another month, I know I can't carry on at this rate. So I'm going to have to change my mindset. A rest over the weekend's probably a good place to start.

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