• Anya Hastwell

So Long 2019, Hello 2020

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

So here it is – another new year, another clean slate. A perfect time to look back over the past year, and set some intentions for the year ahead. Seizing the moment, here are my thoughts on 2019 and a few personal goals for 2020.

This time last year I'd signed up for Neil Kerber's most excellent cartoon course, with the long-held goal of then starting a blog and including the artistic fruits of this endeavour in its posts. Well, I certainly drew and scribbled enthusiastically throughout January, February and the beginning of March, thought about various editorially related subjects and situations to scribble about, and then ... well, life took over again once I completed the course. It's easily done and bills need to be paid, which was the excuse I gave myself when faced with the terror of putting my own words out there on social media or a blog illustrated by my own scrawls. But finally – here it is, a year later.

Professional Development

After working on a book edit that involved dealing with some tricky image permission issues throughout 2018, I felt it was time to refresh my knowledge on all things copyright and permissions. So, in April I attended the Publishing Training Centre's, Copyright – How to Get What You Need in the Digital Age.

In this era, it's all too easy for the author unaware of copyright law to find the pictures they want from Google Images and to presume that just because they are downloadable (albeit usually in terrible resolution and perhaps with a watermark) that they are available for use. I don't need to tell you about all the horrifying scenarios that could likely occur from doing this – it's akin to walking into the Tate gallery and walking out with a painting because entry was free of charge – but being prepared for how to deal with this and other nightmarish scenarios, if and when they occur, is another notch on the freelance editor's belt. I felt much better about my current knowledge by attending, and of course gained a whole lot of useful new learning.

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) annual conference in September brought more inspiration too. My mind has been whirring (quietly but surely) since then with the nuggets of wisdom gained from the amazingly generous and supportive editorial community that is the SfEP.

Take a Chance

Another creative project I began last year was the bare bones of a fictional story idea, loosely wrapped around the setting of London's very real Magnificent Seven Victorian cemeteries, laced together with some Egyptian symbolism, a smattering of secret societies and mystical theory. Or something like that, anyway. This morbid fascination has no doubt been fuelled by my volunteering as a tour guide at Highgate Cemetery (since 2017) and Willesden Jewish Cemetery (since 2019). Perhaps it's time to dig that one up again, open up Scrivener and see if new life can be breathed into it ...

Years of copy-editing and proofreading have me hyperaware of the power and potency of words, their huge potential for both good and harmful ends; sometimes none at all are better than the wrong ones. But only by being daring enough to pick the right ones can you manifest magic.

Rest, Recharge and Repair

In just over 5 years of freelancing, the last two weeks of December 2019 have been the first time I've managed (allowed myself?) to take some serious time off away from the screen and from doing any editing work AT ALL. It's made me realise just how important having decent time off is to think more creatively and feel in charge of your business, and work through creative blocks (e.g. What to do with my website? Social media? Who am I again?) rather than being in it all the time, head down working away from one job to the next. When your brain is your tool, it's vital to look after it and allow it chance to rest, recharge and repair. This time has felt immensely important for just allowing some perspective and (2020?) vision to re-emerge for the coming year and months ahead.

So my goals – or resolutions – for 2020 are:

  • to keep this blog going – once a fortnight ideally, or perhaps once a month

  • to keep creating little scribbles to illustrate them

  • to be more active on social media (I'm a bit phobic TBH)

  • to breathe life into the cemetery story

  • to take quality time off regularly.

Start Small ... and Keep Going

While there's likely not enough words – or wine – for my thoughts on the wider world events of 2019, I'm very happy to say that after stepping down as the SfEP's professional development director in September 2019, I'll be stepping up as an Arts Emergency student mentor for 2020.

Editing text and holding long debates on whether a comma is needed here or there in these days of environmental and political crises does sometimes feel like fiddling while Rome burns. But it's worth reminding yourself that doing something small, however small, can make a difference. As the brilliant Arts Emergency manifesto says: "Do something. Start small, start local, keep going."


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