Way back in Dec 2006, I came to the conclusion that I had no choice ...
... I was going to have to find a way to supplement my writing income.
A month later, I reported that I had the answer, when I completed my first freelance appraisal.
Since then, I have done approx 2 edits a month - most of these have been for The Writers' Workshop, but I've also done a couple for The Literary Agent as well as some private ones.
I have the ultimate flexibility - I can work on manuscripts wherever and whenever - on the tube going to dad, in the park on hot sunny days, lying on the settee at night after everyone else is in bed ...
And I can fit it in around the needs of the family and still go on school trips etc.
It's also helped to hone my own writing skills.
I can see when something isn't working, analyse the problem and come up with solutions.
I know I can make a real difference and feedback from grateful clients is always very satisfying.
I see my role as akin to that of a midwife, though my commitment often goes beyond the gestation period and birth of a final draft.
And sometimes, not often but sometimes, I read an MS that takes my breath away.
One that I know deserves to be published, even though I'm fully aware of the realities of attempting to get a book published these days.
(If you need convincing, see here and click the links back to the previous posts.)
In over 18 months, I have felt so strongly about 2 submissions that I have told the Writers' Workshop that, subject to any issues raised in my report being dealt with, I highly recommend the author.
What happens then is the MS receives a free read and if the reader agrees with me it will be pitched to one of the agents the Workshop has links with.
In the case of John Constable (no links though I'm trying to persuade him he needs a web presence) the book was a Chandleresque thriller, filled with witty one liners, a plausible plot and strong characters.
The Workshop agreed with me that the MS was well-written and strong.
Sadly, they felt that given the overcrowded nature of the crime market, John's book wasn't sufficiently different to be guaranteed success.
Nothing daunted, and armed with the knowledge that the people who make it are the ones who never give up, John began pitching to agents himself and meanwhile started working on a new book, into which I also had some input in the early stages.
I've just heard that this second book has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize.
You can see the full short list here.
The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in September.
So - well done, John! I couldn't be more delighted for you that you are receiving the recognition you so richly deserve.
And well done, me - for spotting the potential of your writing.
Now - what can I do to persuade you to start a blog ...