Tag: VSIs

I find comfort in strange names and it works

I’m currently sat writing this on a train, the 18.57 train from Banbury to Manchester Piccadilly. I’m getting off this train at Wolverhampton. I’m making the most of this opportunity (being sat on a train with a laptop and wifi) to do some work. I like working on the train. I find it easier to work on a train than at home (shame I just can’t travel on trains every day I’d be so productive). I ike the noise and commotion that a train provides: the people; the bags; the conversations; the tap, tap, tapping on nearby laptops and the smells of bacon butties and lager.

View from the Train

However, I was just sat here, working away, when something odd about my way of working occurred to me that I normally take for granted. There’s a chap sat next to me also tapping away on his own laptop and I tried to imagine what he would think if he were to glance at my screen. Imagining seeing my screen through another’s eyes gave me that uncanny feeling that things are strange when seen with fresh eyes.

The strange thing I am referring to is the fact that I give my documents, spreadsheets and folders odd names and I think that is normal. However, to the man sat next to me, this is surely not normal. Or, I assume that to be the case. I need to know now whether other people call their folders and documents odd names and organize them as haphazardly as I do. Here is an example of an oddly named spreadsheet.

My timekeeping spreadsheet is called: Copy of Time After Toes July 2017

It’s not called ‘Timesheet’ or even just ‘Time’. That would be sensible. The astute reader of this blog will notice that the word ‘time’ does appear in the name, giving some sense of normality, but the meaning of the rest of the spreadsheet’s name is rather ambiguous. The interested reader may want to know what, or who, is ‘Toes’ and why is it ‘time after Toes’ (what happened before Toes?)? There is a logic to it. After my youngest son was born (who I fondly call Toes) I started a new spreadsheet for my timekeeping for work and called it ‘Time After Toes’ as that is what it recorded: time spent working after the birth of the child called Toes. Subsequently, as I saved more versions of this spreadsheet I started to date them by month, hence the ‘July 2017’ part of the title (although I haven’t been consistent in renaming this every month given that it is now September). ‘Copy of’ I think just appears in the name of a spreadsheet when you save a spreadsheet after it crashes. Incidentally, Toes is now nearly 8 years old.

This is just one example. I could provide more (on request). This naming oddity doesn’t just apply to documents. It also applies to folders.

The folder I currently use for everything I’ve worked on since 2013 is called: VSIs for Edingburgh

That name won’t make much sense without some some context. A few years ago I worked on a project for Oxford University Press which involved creating short abstracts for titles in their Very Short Introduction series which were due to be launched online that same year. I then went to Edinburgh on holiday. I needed a folder for the work for this project while I was away. Hence the name. However, after creating that folder, I carried on using it as a general dumping ground for ALL work I did when away from home (so work not saved on the home server). The occupancy of VSI abstracts in this folder is minor.

A Very Short Introduction

At some point, this folder got a bit messy. So I created a subfolder called: OSO Stuff (OSO being Oxford Scholarship Online, a project I spend most of my time working on).

I then  started using this folder as a dumping ground for all away-from-home work (not just OSO – anything and including VSIs). This folder also gradually outgrew its usefulness.

So I subsequently created another subfolder to put new work in with a new name: General OSO

I then went on holiday to Wales.

The next folder within this folder was logically named: Wales October 2015

The same happened again, ‘Wales October 2015’ became my dumping ground. Everything was saved in here.

Wales where I did some work in October 2015 – when I had wifi

A year later I went to Wale again and so along came a fresh, new subfolder: Wales Oct 2016

I am currently still dumping into this folder but I am now already finding this folder really messy, following in the footsteps of its predecessors. I think I need a new folder (perhaps ‘Haddenham September 2017’ might be a good name as that is where I have been today?).

This is file path of all my away-from-home work at the moment:

C:\_Moved\Desktop\VSIs for Edinburgh\OSO Stuff\General OSO\Wales October 2015\Wales Oct 2016

That’s not great, is it? Anyone who is quite tidy will be quaking right now. It is messy, it is disorganzied, but I know where everything is. It works for me.

Organized chaos is a real thing. Long life folders and spreadsheets with weird names. I think life would be boring if things were named to describe exactly what they are.

I really do have a Chandler Bing Job, a job that nobody understands

I have a friend who calls my job a Chandler Bing job. When she says that I tend to get a bit defensive because to me it sounds as if she is saying my job is boring. But she’s not saying that. She’s not trying to be mean, in fact what she means is that even if I can explain my job in the easiest, simplest way possible, nobody will understand what I do.

So I thought about this yesterday, while on the toilet of course, and thought I’d better write a blog entry about what I do so in the hope that I can explain exactly what my job is and to try to shed the Chandler Bing image.

Job title: Freelance Online and Print Publishing Manager (don’t be deceived by the word ‘manager’ – this refers more to project management than people management).

Work for: Oxford University Press and Bloomsbury Publishing

Please keep reading, it gets better, I promise.

Work on: academic monographs that get published on a subscription website owned by OUP, mainly published by OUP but also by other University Presses. I also work on or have worked on Trove Law (law higher education titles online), Very Short Introductions Online (fabulous little books about a variety of subjects from the eye to the earth) and Oxford Handbooks Online. I also am a Listings Editor for the annual Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. Still awake? Then read on.

What do I do every day?

Besides drink coffee in coffee shops in town, you mean? Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO) is the main love of my life (we have a bit of a love hate relationship sometimes but it is mostly the former). For OSO I maintain all forthcoming and past title lists, update the database of forthcoming titles, attend phone meetings, liaise with editors and production staff in Oxford and New York, work with the datateam in Oxford, and circulate lists to Sales and Marketing and royalty departments every month. I also commission and check abstracts and keywords. I check OSO titles on a pre-live server every month. I might also write and / or check abstracts and keywords for other University Presses (e.g. MIT Press, Chicago University Press) or for Trove, or occasionally VSIs. This is the part of my work which makes me feel clever and academic, as if I really am mingling with great minds.

What I work on most of the day

What I work on most of the day

For the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook: I am responsible for all the book publishers listed in the book, the art agencies, the national and regional newspapers and the card and stationery companies. I have to email them all every year and gather updates to their entries. I update their entries in a database and from this proofs are generated which I have to check. I also have to research new companies to add. This is the part of my job which makes me feel like a trendy trade publisher, as if I am mingling with the likes of Oliver Jeffers, Nathan Filer and Terry Pratchett.

My baby

My baby

Makes sense?

I get it but then I get it because I’ve been doing it on and off for around seven years. More importantly, are you still awake and if so, do you get it?

The baby of the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook - my favourite of the two

The baby of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook – my favourite of the two

Do I like it?

Yep, I love it! I am so lucky that I can work from home for the same wage (if I were to measure my old full-time job by the hour) I’d earn working in Oxford in-house. I can still take the children to school, pick them up, do a part-time foundation art degree, go to school plays and sneak off for the odd coffee in the middle of the day. And I get the odd day trip to London or Oxford where I can pretend I am important with a laptop on a train.

One of the perks of the freelance life

One of the perks of the freelance life

Do I mind being thought of as a bit of a Chandler Bing?

Not at all! I love having a job nobody gets.

I do statistical analysis and data reconfiguration

I do statistical analysis and data reconfiguration