Why it’s good to escape from the office – the annual conference of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders 2017

The proofreader’s office

I wonder what people would say if they were asked to describe the sort of office a self-employed proofreader might work in? Would they describe an isolated, minimalist office overlooking a well-tended garden with an amazing view of distant hills? Or would they picture a dingy back bedroom cluttered with junk, piles of books, and cold cups of half-drunk tea? It would be interesting to find out, and I suspect most freelancers’ offices are somewhere in between these descriptions. I doubt many professionals would confess that their office fits the latter description! It’s probably true to say, though, that most of us spend a lot of time alone with our computers, which is fine but often means that it’s essential to socialise and mix with friends and colleagues when there’s time.

A proofreader’s escape

A week ago I spent a day at the annual conference of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). I’m a Professional Member of the society, which offers a huge amount of support and guidance for members, works hard to maintain and improve editorial standards, and provides opportunities for editorial professionals to communicate with one another, among other things. I co-run the South Warwickshire and Coventry local SfEP group, which allows local members to meet face to face to discuss all sorts of work-related stuff, and I’ve found our meetings invaluable in many different ways.

My day at the conference was a great opportunity to spent time with other proofreaders and editors – to network and to learn new things. I attended workshops on different ways of pricing work, learned more about the software I use, and discovered, with relief, that we (that is, editorial professionals) will be able to prevent our jobs from being taken over by robots in the next thirty years or so. The talks and workshops certainly provided food for thought and were fun too. I met new people and learned quite a lot in just a few hours. I’ve come back even more enthusiastic about the work that I do and keen to try out some new ideas.

So it’s good to get out of the office now and again, and coming back raring to go and full of even more enthusiasm for proofreading can only be a good thing. I’m really grateful to all those who organised the conference, gave talks, and attended. It was a great event. Now back to the real world!