Saturday, 28 May 2011

The waiting game...

I'm sitting here in a quandry. The curse of the freelancer has descended and as a deadline looms work has been halted...question now is should I forge ahead and hope no text has been changed, or do I take the weekend off, ignore the fact that the deadline is seriously close and enjoy life?

For those who dont know, amongst other things, I'm an indexer, I index books. You know when you pick up a book (imagine one of those seriously hefty tomes full of scholarly material that you have to wade through) and open up the final few pages to find just what you are looking for (or if you've been mentioned)...well that index isn't created by a computer...most of the time it is a finely crafted work of art created by a real person.

You wouldnt believe the amount of times in general conversation when the "What do you do for a living?" question comes up, when the word Indexer is mentioned eyes glaze over. Other people are genuinely surprised that people make indexes and it's a real life profession. Well, yes, its a real job, a very complicated one and it takes training and patience to become an indexer. We are the people who get a book last and have to wade through it, pick out the relevant bits and put them back into such a form that everyone can find just what they are looking for in the shortest possible time and with the greatest amount of accuracy. You have to not only understand a great deal of information, you have to be able to dissect a text quickly, understand what the reader will find relevant and then put it back in list form. And the deadlines can be tight...very tight. Being the last in the line usually means you have to work your arse off if the deadline has become more serious when other areas of the publishing have taken longer than expected. It's no ones fault, thats life, but it can make for a lot of 12 hour days and unsociable hours.

Freelancing can be great, work from home, tons of coffee and cake, the ability to do the school run and grocery shopping when you want. But it can also be a pain...isolation (thank GOD for Twitter) and lack of work being the main problems. The constant search for work can be soul destroying when work is thin on the ground, and as the publishing industry is changing so is the work load. Who may be time to diverisfy (into what I dont know...answers on a postcard please)

So..I'm sitting here, still in a quandry. I'm very lucky that these clients are lovely and I know that if the deadline gets way too scary they know they'll have to extend it. But I think I'll split the difference...I'll do what I can, keep my fingers crossed...then take time out to watch the Monaco Grand Prix Qualifiers. 

After's the weekend :)

1 comment:

  1. I for one use the index a lot so am extremely grateful for the work you do. I hope you were let off your deadline and had a good weekend xx