The Naked Editor

Posted on October 29, 2007 in Uncategorized


I thought long and hard before coming up with a title for this column and when I finally settled for this I realised that, given the name of my business, the choice is actually a bit of an unfortunate one. Then again, I have already brought shame to myself by being ‘The Naked Editor’ so I think a bit more teasing won’t do me any harm. When I decided, after much soul searching, that I was going to become a freelancer, I had to come up with a name for myself and this was the result of my efforts. I guess I just got tired of people saying ‘you must spend all day in your pyjamas’ – that definitely shut them up! Now my initial introduction doesn’t leave anybody free to enquire about my daily clothing habits. Clearly, though, it brought new jokes – if I had a penny for every time that somebody (usually a man) has asked me ‘the Naked Editor, aha? Not literally I hope?!’ I could happily retire and I would still be earning more than what I get for working in publishing. 

The ‘but’ word is one which has become very familiar to me after I embarked on my little adventure. The words that follow it are different depending on the context, but at its core the meaning is the same: you become responsible for the vast majority of chores. The most common one is ‘but you’re at home all day’ and it’s possibly the worst. Generally, people associate being at home with sleeping and watching telly, so it’s hard for them to reconcile the fact that I sometimes work 14 hours a day with the fact that my office is 1 and 1/2 minutes from my bedroom.

One thing that I don’t miss about having an office job is the commute to central London. For some reason, I never got the knack of pushing and elbowing others, so I was always the one in the herd to end up the victim of the daily stampede to the next tube train. You could not miss me: I was inevitably the one squashed against the back door of the train with a group of six foot tall people all around, who couldn’t spot little me (1 metre and an olive – as the Italians say) even if I stood up and slapped them in the face. In the summer it got actually worse: it felt as if the glass was melting underneath my cheek and I think I actually managed to leave a mould of half of my face in there. 

There again, every silver lining has a cloud. Being at home means that you are the one person in the household who gets to stare all day at the four walls around you and if there is any housework to be done, you are guaranteed to be the one who will do it. You have to – you get so fed up with eyeballing that same mound of dust piling up day in, day out, or that spot on the cooker that will take you half an hour of elbow grease to get off. Beware! The ‘but’ is contagious; soon you’ll be the one chanting it in your head: ‘I could leave that big mark on the carpet there all day for my partner/flatmate/friend to clean up after work, but…that doesn’t make sense. I might as well do it now!’

Most people also think that working from home can be lonely at times – and they are right! However, help can come from unexpected places. Indeed, the ‘but’ rule dictates that you will be the one answering the door to whoever decides to pester you that day: electricity man, British Gas man, fire alarm man, passing psychopath…it’s all in a day’s work. Don’t count on your neighbours to let these people in the building for you – yes, you’ve guessed it: they are at work! If you try and protest that the day the landlord decided to visit you, you had actually planned something else, you get the ‘but you are at home and I’d have to waste a day’s leave’. I’ve got to say, that actually makes sense. Anyway, as I was saying, those little interruptions can actually be very welcome. After spending every day on my own, it’s actually refreshing to have somebody there to talk to. After a couple of months of working at home I actually started to enjoy receiving phone calls from the call centre people. I would keep them for a while on the phone, explaining in detail why I didn’t need pet insurance. I would clarify first of all that I would love to get a dog, but that in London it was difficult to find the space, plus what about all the attention they need? How would I be able to look after a puppy properly whilst keeping on top of a busy work schedule? And so I would continue, until eventually, for some unknown reason, they all stopped calling. So, I appear to have stumbled on the solution to what is many people’s nightmare: how to stop cold callers pestering you to get a new kitchen/double glazing/phone, etc. Just outtalk them!

Having explained all this, you won’t be surprised to hear what happened next. The first time the gas man came around I prepared tea and laid out biscuits as if I was expecting the Queen. He looked slightly taken aback and I didn’t improve things by chatting away happily, totally oblivious to the fact that he needed to concentrate, so delighted was I to have some company for a change. He was very nice and we had a lovely chat, but he did mention that he met lots of strange people through his job, so I am now convinced that I became one of the many stories which he tells his mates down the pub. 

After all, though, freelancing is a lot of fun: you retain all the excitement which you get from working on something new and, paradoxically, although it is lonely sometimes, you actually get to meet a lot of people and learn many new skills. So, the rule of the ‘but’ has continued right to the end: I know I love to occasionally moan about the housework, the cooking and my hermit-like life, but freelancing is also very rewarding and it’s the only way I can get to be the Naked Editor!

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The Naked Editor offers a choice of editorial, proofreading and translation services. For more information, please check out her website at: www.thenakededitor.co.uk.

”If you would like to get in touch, ask me a question or simply say a quick hello to relieve me from the loneliness of working from home, then email me at enquiries@thenakededitor.co.uk (doing this counts as your good action for the day, so you won’t have to keep looking out for that elusive elderly lady to help her cross the street!).”