9 Things I Have Never Told You

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 signing 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.

 

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By | 2019-01-04T16:42:25+00:00 January 8th, 2019|An Editor's Life|4 Comments

About the Author:

Sophie Playle of Liminal Pages is a professional fiction editor. She worked at the largest publishing company in the world before gallivanting off to do a Creative Writing MA at Royal Holloway, University of London. She's an Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, and she trained with The Publishing Training Centre. Every now and then, she slips her laptop into her rucksack and works from a different country for a few weeks.

4 Comments

  1. Sandy January 17, 2019 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    HI Sophie,

    I am currently enrolled in an MFA program and one of my classes is editing. This led me to your site which led me to your page.

    I wanted to say I can relate to everything you say here except the bendy joints. I hated having to read non-fiction and I do think that is something we “grow out of”. I work teaching a writing club at the local middle school (USA) and I always talk in terms of fiction, 98% of their writing prompts are in fiction or we fictionalize real events. I think there is a lot more to be learned from fiction than just escapism.

    As far as the creativity…it is hard. However, cling to the children in your life…the ones in your family, the ones you see when you go out. They believe in Santa and fairies and the whole nine yards. Let them tell you their stories. My daughter is 10 and she has the most beautiful imagination. She is my muse and inspiration. Her creativity forces me to use my own in ways I never expected.

    I am glad you are here on the web and I look forward to reading more from you!

    • Sophie Playle February 1, 2019 at 8:17 am - Reply

      That’s a great tip, Sandy. And good luck with your MFA – enjoy it 🙂

  2. Jacqui January 31, 2019 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    Hi Sophie,

    this was a very insightful post and I can relate to a lot of your points, especially 2 and 3. As a fellow introvert (which I also didn’t know until many years later) I suffered greatly during my school years, often feeling like the odd-one-out because I didn’t fit the ‘norm’ of most of those around me, the chaos of the school environment often overwhelming. I would then spend hours in my room at home just enjoying the peace and freedom of writing or drawing. Even now I need that sense of space (not easy during the school holidays!) even if just for an hour to recharge and spend a little time with my own thoughts.

    I also suffered with nightmares from an early age, many of them terrifying and so real that I still remember many of them even now. I don’t get them as bad now, and some have even helped with my writing! As a fellow editor I also find it hard to juggle work and the boring everyday aspects that sap the energy from my creativity, though I’ve found a workable schedule that works for me in allowing me to continue with my writing, though it’s taken me several years of trial and error to get to that point. Sadly I don’t get to draw or paint as much as I used to, though manage to fit in a bit during the school holidays when my daughter loves to paint along with me. She’s also a huge book lover so I guess it’s rubbed off on her!

    • Sophie Playle February 1, 2019 at 8:17 am - Reply

      You sound like a kindred spirit, Jacqui!

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