A Freelance Editor’s Experience of the Pandemic

Sophie Playle

I still quite can’t get over the fact the kind of fiction I love to read has spilled over into the real world. Into my life. That I’m living through a global pandemic.

But here we are. And here I am again, after needing to put the blog on the back burner for a little while.

It’s been a year since I retreated into my own lockdown. Though my country (the UK) has gone in and out of national lockdown and various levels of restrictions, my life has largely been the same for the past twelve months.

Working from home

I’ve been working from home for years, so there wasn’t much of a transition for me in that respect. But you know what I haven’t been doing for years? Working, relaxing, socialising (digitally), exercising and sleeping all within the confines of the same four walls.

Pre-pandemic, I would work from home occasionally, but also work from coffee shops and the local co-working office. I went to the gym a couple of mornings a week. I met up with friends for dinner in London. I spent time visiting family.

Working from home only really works when you have the ability to leave home once in a while. Take away the stimulation of seeing other people, doing other things and being in different places, and the monotony is … oppressive.

Uncertainty anxiety

Though I haven’t had a gap in my work calendar for years, it took me a long time to feel secure in my business and trust that I was going to continue earning enough to support myself.

When the pandemic hit, I was worried about the effect it would have on my income. There were a few months of uncertainty, but then it seemed my work would remain steady. For that, I was grateful, relieved.

But the uncertainty of the effects of the pandemic itself burrowed through my brain like a parasite. There were days I could barely function because I was so frazzled. There’s nothing more terrifying than the unknown, and I wrote in one of my newsletters how I would spend so much time reading the news, trying hard to gain all the facts so I could use knowledge as a comforter.

That obviously didn’t work, and towards the end of the year I took the decision to step back from the news and focus on my own small world.

Living digitally

The trouble with focusing on your own shrunken little world is that it can be a rather lonely place when you’re forced into social isolation.

I live with my partner, and I’m so glad about that. I don’t think I would have done very well if I were living completely on my own. Though its considered romantic to be each other’s worlds, in reality that’s an extremely damaging dynamic. We aren’t meant to be in another person’s company for every second of the day or be someone’s only physically present form of support or connection.

Talking to friends and family through a digital window (about not much in particular, since no one is able to do anything worth talking about) is like feeding a starving person a morsal of bread. It will keep them alive, but it won’t make them feel full and nourished.

Digital life is no substitute for the real thing.

Reduced capacity

Everything I’ve written about so far takes its toll. And that has meant I haven’t been able to work at full capacity, despite it seeming as though I have all the time in the world to dedicate to work.

The biggest thing that has helped me is exercise. Specifically, hiring a personal trainer for the first couple of months of this year. Not only was I getting a little flood of feel-good endorphins from all my physical activity, but the accountability it provided me with was highly motivating. As was feeling myself getting stronger – and learning how to do a headstand!

And so recently I have essentially been taking mornings off from work to exercise or go for walks and spend time outside my apartment, reducing my working hours.

And in turn, that’s meant I have had to prioritise some aspects of my work (notably client work) and let other aspects go for a little bit (blogging, social media, creating and running courses).

Looking forward

I’m not sure what’s around the bend, and yes, that uncertainty anxiety is still constantly humming inside my chest. But the vaccines are rolling out, and there’s hope on the horizon.

I’ve become so used to this way of life now that it’s going to take some time and emotional energy to transition out of it into whatever comes next. I’m not sure how that’s going to affect Liminal Pages in the immediate future, but I imagine I’ll just let things keep ticking over for now and try not to put too much pressure on myself.

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 Editors and Proofreaders and has a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway, University of London. Find out more: liminalpages.com

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