Eyecare and the Editor

Eye on Flat Panel Monitor

I’m sitting at my laptop after a hectic day off. Yes, I finally managed a whole day off. I don’t normally work through weekends but as things have been a bit full-on I decided (that’s I decided … my clients didn’t decide for me) to work right through the last few months to get some deadlines comfortably met.

So, today I had a day off, and my new glasses arrived.

Ever since I was 18, and my husband (at the time my boyfriend) and my mum frogmarched me into the opticians, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the men and women in white coats.

I was fine. Who needed to see if you could ask the little old lady next to you at the bus stop what the number of the bus just arriving was?

Red London Bus

But that was 30 years ago.

Since then I’ve had an assortment of really rather crappy specs – from roundish glasses that made me look like a moon, to geeky heavy frames that I liked and no-one else did.

If I’m totally honest I hate having to wear glasses. There are few that suit me as I seem to have quite a small, weird face. My last visit to the opticians resulted in me trying on every single pair of specs in the whole shop and coming away with one pair that I didn’t mind. I actually rather like them now, but it’s not much of a consolation for hours spent looking for the right pair. Oh, how I envy those women who suit all types of glasses and look elegant and intelligent in them.

Sara Donaldson in specs

I didn’t mind these, but they were retired in June

As an editor I know I have to look after my eyes, but it really doesn’t make it any easier when suddenly you can’t see close-up in your contact lenses any more.

At my last appointment in June I heard the dreaded word – varifocals.


I’m old and I have crap eyesight. I don’t know what’s worse.

I resisted.

I bought some distance glasses and persevered.

That didn’t work.

So last week I ordered four pairs of specs from Glasses Direct to try on. Two frivolous ones, and two that are very much like my distance glasses (only slightly larger as they are supposed to fit a normal-sized head). Guess which ones I ordered?

The nice lady optician on the phone mentioned ‘occupational glasses’ (whatever they are) as something I could look out for in future, but I still semi-resisted and ordered a pair of reading glasses and some … *deep breath* … varifocals.

Sara Donaldson's stare

I’m not judging you, I’m pondering my weird small face.

Dear reader, I’m hedging my bets. I now have a pair of reading glasses and am waiting for the Devil’s lenses to arrive next week. I like the idea that if I hate the old lady glasses I can be even more of an old lady and swap between distance and reading glasses.

So what has this got to do with freelancing and editing?

Well, quite frankly I rely on my eyesight. If I can’t see, I can’t work. Simple as that. And working for hours on end on a computer certainly hasn’t helped my eyes one little bit. I’ve noticed a marked deterioration in the last few years since my editing business has steadily grown.

So what do I do? I certainly can’t take on less work (hey, we all have bills to pay and I love my job).

I’ll be:

  • Following the recommendations from the College of Optometrists on eyecare when using screens.
  • Trying to get on with varifocals. They can take some getting used to apparently, and although I hate the thought of them I will keep an open mind and persevere.
  • Looking into getting contact lenses again. Expensive varifocal ones this time.
  • Trying on glasses when I fancy it, not just when my prescription is due. Specs are expensive, but self-care is important. And I will try the Glasses Direct home trial again … I may eventually find those frivolous specs I’ve always longed for.
  • Stopping with the ‘old lady’ thoughts. I may still think I’m 20, but I’m not. As long as I look after my eyes I’m still just me.

Being freelance, there may come a time when I’m wearing second-hand glasses tied together with string so, while I’m able, I’m going to take my eyesight more seriously and actively look after it.

Still pondering.

Still pondering.


To be a writer

fountain pen, writing

It’s been eight months since our OU Advanced Creative Writing course finished. And I have to say that I really miss it. This is the first time in three years that I haven’t been taking a writing course, and although I love my Design Thinking course I miss writing.

I am writing nearly every day, but it’s writing non-fiction – writing that is attached to my editing/copywriting day job.

I thought that when the course finished I would be picking up my notebook and writing every day like a good writer should. But the reality has turned into a workfest that just hasn’t let up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for work, I need work to survive and I enjoy what I do … but.

There’s a school of thought that if you are a writer you will find time to write. That’s all well and good if there are enough hours in the day. At the moment even finding fifteen minutes free time is difficult.

So I’ve decided to take small steps back into creative writing. I’ll aim to write one short story a month. Not a story that’s done, dusted and edited, but one that’s finished in the rough stages. That way I won’t stress myself, but will get back into the swing of things.

The reason for this decision?

Today there’s a new anthology available on Amazon. It’s one that I’m actually quite proud of, as it’s the first time that my creative writing has been seen outside of my OU course. Well apart from a one-act playscript that I let a few of my Thurso Player’s family look at.

This is different. There are twenty short stories, written by students of the OU 2016 (October start) Advanced Creative Writing course, put together in an anthology. Available to anyone who fancies reading some great stories. I know they’re great, because we all supported each other through the course, and I helped put the anthology together. I didn’t do much, just helped sort out the submissions so they all kept to the same format, but I got to read them all. Gareth Coates has been very modest, as he’s the brains behind the operation and has done all the legwork.

There are poems, scripts and stories. Including one of mine.

I’m hoping it sells really well, as not only are the contents fabulous, but all proceeds are going to Macmillan Cancer Support.

If you fancy a good read why not have a look? This is the first step towards many of the participants becoming writers, and it’s for a good cause. Stories from Everywhere is available from Amazon.




If Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters were editors

Eye red and black


Since October I’ve been fully booked up with work, and have been working more hours than usual. In fact, I ended up working over Christmas and New Year, which is something I rarely do (and I won’t be doing again in a hurry).

So enough of being serious … I’ve been binge-watching Buffy with my family to relax and unwind after a long day’s hard editing. And as I sit here on my new snuggle chair (hurrah, good riddance to my old, manky brown suite) I’ve written up a bit of a silly article for the new year.


If you know Buffy you might relate; if you have never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, well,  shame on you … go and watch it now. Stop what you are doing, seek it out and come back here when you have ‘the knowledge’.

Ladies and gentleman – I give you … what happened to the characters of Buffy when they decided that saving the world from vampires was a bit too much, and set up their own editing firm instead.

Shelf of old books

The Master had been defeated (again) and the world was saved from destruction. But those pesky vampires and demons just wouldn’t quit. So the Scooby gang quit instead, and while Angel swanned off to LA (again), the gang set up shop in the old school library, hung up their sign and formed themselves into a company of editors – Esoteric Editorial (not to be confused with any non-Buffy universe companies of the same name).

Here’s how they got on …

Red pencil not quite a pointy stick

Buffy – She went in for the kill, hit the manuscript hard and took no prisoners. Forget empathy, this lady would tell it like it is and go straight with a stake to the heart of the writer.

Giles – A thoughtful editor, he would use all the books in his arsenal to make the documents as perfect as possible (although he might not exactly go with the times and remain a tad archaic). His subject specialism was demonology and English weaponry of the C15th­–C21st.

Xander – A bit slapdash with his editing, he’d start and get a little bit distracted. But he made great coffee.

Willow – Meticulous in her work, Willow would spend all day looking through the manuscript, then all night worrying that she’d make a mistake.

Cordelia – Not really bothered about the writing, she was more interested in making the document look good. Cordy was the perfect designer: forget the words, it’s all good just as long as they look pretty.

pretty gold book

Angel – All angst and looking off into the middle distance, obviously he did the night shift and got those last minute jobs done … from his office in LA, away from the temptations of the library.

Oz – Would spend all of his time being very laid back and cool, then, a few days a month, would accidentally eat the manuscript and have to explain to his client that the dog ate his homework.

Faith – She’d skim it over, toss the document back and say it’s fine.

Kendra – She’d just sit in a corner with Mr Pointy, avoiding the men.

Spike – Would tear the manuscript up and tell the writer that they were an arse. Or just pour a drink on it and set it on fire.

Drusilla – Would look at the work, find something wrong then get upset and go play with her dolls instead.

burning magic book

Anya – It was all about the money with Anya … get the work done quickly and get the money (how else can you buy pretty things?). She was also the firm’s accountant and made sure the women received the same pay as the men.

Jenny Calendar – Well, she would do it all with computers and tried her hardest to figure out just why computers can’t do everything.

Jonathan – He tried to design a robot to do all the work for him. He’s probably still in the basement

Dawn – Eventually she would pretend that she was just a figment of the writer’s imagination and refuse to do the work.

Joyce – Would deny that anything was wrong.

Principle Snyder – Would occasionally barge into the office, point out all the errors, recite all the rules of grammar and writing and would make sure you knew exactly where you went wrong and how to fix it. Now.

Riley – Who cares. Really? Does anyone even remember him?

book as memories

So there you go … the Scooby Gang as editorial types.

Who says articles have to be serious?



With thanks to team Donaldson for some of the ideas. I’d write more but I’ve got more Buffy to watch.