9 Things I Have Never Told You

Sophie Playle

For a change, I thought it’d be a fun to share a few things about me, so you can get to know me better.

We can navigate our editor-author (or student-teacher) relationship with the utmost professionalism, but at the end of the day, if we both have a deeper understanding of one another, we can do our best work together. After all, the writing and publishing industry is creative, and creativity is deeply personal.

So here are a few things about me you probably don’t know.

1. I never used to read non-fiction.

Why would I want to learn about our boring old world when I could immerse myself in a fantastical fictional one? Then I bought I Kindle so I could carry a library of books with me as I travelled. And for some reason, I gravitated towards reading non-fiction on it.

For me, I prefer to hold a paperback in my hands and smell the ink and admire the cover and crinkle the pages with my damp hands as I read it in the bath. I can put it on my shelf and it becomes part of my home … But non-fiction? I’m so used to reading non-fiction online in the form of blogs that bloggy-feeling books seem right at home on the screen of my e-reader.

Couple that with the high standards I put on myself and the ease of one-click buying, and I can’t help but pile all these productivity and self-help books onto my Kindle and devour them.

2. I’m haunted by the stress of my secondary school years.

I think back to (or have nightmares about) those days often, and the memories make my heart race. With distance and hindsight, I think I simply found secondary school overwhelming.

I’m very much an introvert (which I didn’t know then), but at school you’re forced to be around literally hundreds of people for hours on end. I remember the dread of knowing I had to make my way through corridors and down staircases completely rammed with shouting, jostling people. (It felt like that scene in Watership Down where the warren is caved in and all the bunnies end up crushing each other to death.)

During break times, I’d use books as a social shield: the reason I’m not talking to anyone is because I’m reading, not because I’m scared no one likes me. My social anxiety was so bad I honestly thought I had a sweating disorder called hyperhidrosis. It wasn’t until I left school that I realised I could go through a day without sweating through my clothes – simply because I wasn’t anxious anymore.

And all that anxiety made me act in ways I wouldn’t normally act, say things I wouldn’t normally say. I never had the space to learn who I was because I was constantly putting on a front. Part of me is glad the experience is over, but another part of me wants the chance to do it all again, better, with the knowledge of myself I have now.

3. I have a lot of nightmares.

When I was a kid, I remember having my first pleasant dream and being shocked to learn that every night wasn’t always going to be filled with horrors. I frequently have nightmares about being swarmed by zombies, which I think might be to do with feeling overwhelmed.

4. A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Hypermobility Type).

It’s essentially a condition in which the collagen in my body is too elastic, which makes me too bendy in a lot of my joints, resulting in a lot of pain (as my joints over-extend) and fatigue and muscle stiffness/soreness (as my muscles try to hold me together more than they’re designed to).

Fun times.

I still haven’t come to terms with the physical limitations I have, which can make me quite miserable. However, having the ability to set my own business hours helps me manage my condition, and I’m so grateful I can do that.

5. When I first launched my editing business, I looked up to every freelance editor I discovered. Not anymore.

I used to believe everyone else knew what they were doing and were successful. But over the years, I learned that wasn’t always the case. I also realised that I didn’t agree with the way a lot of people ran their businesses and that there was a huge variation in the quality of those businesses …

I sometimes worry that I’m one of those poor-quality editors who think they’re amazing but are actually a pile of poo, taking money from unsuspecting authors. That fear drives me to constantly improve my skills and business, and I hope that in itself means I’m not one of those editors.

6. With the exception of my fiancé, all my greatest loves are fictional characters.

In real life, it’s difficult to deal with people’s flaws – and some actions are unforgivable. But in fiction, we never have to interact with those flawed characters. We can just relate to them from a distance. And it’s easy to forgive unforgivable actions because none of it is real. It’s easy to fall for a sexy vampire (Spike) or a villainous god (Loki), but there’s no way I’d love a violent murderer in real life.

7. I’m a slow reader.

Part of that is because I pay close attention to every word and give the sentences time to sink into my consciousness. I think that tendency helps me as an editor. But I also think I read much less than I used to. And part of that is because I’m immersed in manuscripts most days for work, but it’s also definitely because these days I’m more likely to pick up my smartphone than a book, and that makes me annoyed at myself and the world.

8. I think there’s something beautiful in sadness and the quiet melancholy of feeling alone in the universe.

I find it kind of profound. But also painful. I love art that captures this feeling because it shows me I’m not the only person who feels this way, ironically. It’s also cathartic, an articulation of a powerful and nuanced feeling that would otherwise become trapped inside me and turn to poison … I have a feeling a lot of people won’t know what I’m talking about.

9. I feel like the responsibility of being an adult has crushed a lot of my creativity.

I know a lot of people feel the same way. I used to draw and paint and write and play guitar and sing. Now, not so much. I’m too preoccupied with needing to work to pay my bills and doing chores. Then I’m too tired to be creative. And once you fall out of practice, your skills start to dull and it becomes harder and harder to motivate yourself to do something because you know it will be rubbish and you don’t have time to build up the skill again. I’m in awe of all adults of have held on to their creativity.

Thanks for reading. If you feel like you connect with the soul I’ve just bared, consider using the form below to sign up to Liminal Letters. Around once I month, I’ll email you with what I’ve been up to and what concepts I’ve been grappling with, along with the links to my latest blog posts.

Sophie Playleis a professional fiction editor. She specialises in developmental editing, critiquing and copy-editing, and loves working with authors and publishers who are passionate about high-quality storytelling. Speculative fiction, fantasy, science fiction and literary fiction are her genres of choice. She's an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and has a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway, University of London. Find out more: liminalpages.com

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Insights into the world of fiction, from the desk of an editor

Editorial considerations, creative revelations and the occasional existential lamentation – sharing my experiences and personal recommendations exclusively with you.