The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Monday, July 06, 2009

Working to rule

I've been meaning to post an update on my last entry for the past couple of weeks, but I've been rather avoiding my computer when not absolutely essential.

Anyway, after my last post, I stopped working altogether for a while, pulled out of a couple of projects I was involved in, then switched off my computer at the wall! I know from long experience that the only remedy for RSI is to stop doing the things that cause the pain. So I just stopped. Anyone who's had long periods "off sick" though will know how quickly the novelty of not working turns to boredom and frustration, especially when so many of the things you'd normally do to amuse yourself are out of bounds too. I just about managed to get through three weeks, thanks to some nice sunny weather and plenty of tennis on the TV.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been trying to get back into working very gently, being very strict with myself about only doing a very few hours a day. On a good day, I'm managing two or three hours, divided into hour-long chunks and spread across the whole day. On other days, especially towards the end of the week, I barely get through an hour before I break down and have to give up. I think the frustration is far worse than the actual pain. I so much just want to get back to normal and get on with stuff.

I've also been struggling with the dilemma of what to tell the people I work for. I came clean to some editors straight away because I had no choice. In other cases, I put it off, hoping I'd be able to manage enough work that they wouldn't need to know. But last week the strain of trying to keep up just got too much and I've now had to "come out" to everyone. It's a difficult call. As a freelancer you rely so much on your reputation, not just for producing good work, but also for being reliable. So it's very difficult to admit that you can't manage what you'd promised.

As for what happens next, I'm just taking it a day at a time. Luckily, I have my usual summer teaching stint coming up in August, which will provide the perfect excuse to stay away from my computer for a few weeks. But for the moment, I'll just keep plodding on gently and trying not to let my frustration get the better of me.


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