It’s the time of year for writing retrospectives and, as I’ve written a couple of reviews of 2010 from different standpoints in the last few weeks, I thought that I’d also write a review of my working year.
As a freelance writer, editor and proofreader, I tend to have plenty of variety in the work I do. The fact that I work with clients in different industries also helps to increase the variety. The following, then, is a taste of what I got up to in 2010.
I was delighted to work with long-standing clients and to add some new ones during 2010.
My most active therapeutic area was dermatology. This area of medicine is incredibly diverse – I’ve worked on acne, pigmentary disorders, non-melanoma skin cancers and actinic keratoses, eczema, psoriasis and even piles this year! This work took me to Berlin in April and to Paris in September, on both occasions to act as scribe at advisory board meetings. One of these resulted in a position paper, which has required liaison with the dozen or so dermatologists who took part in the meeting. Fortunately, they are all very keen to share their ideas and opinions.
I was also in Paris for the International Thyroid Conference in September (see report elsewhere on Trickerish Allsorts). Ordinarily, I would work ‘face to face’ with the med comms agency and at arms length with the pharma client, but on this occasion the pharma staff were in Paris and the agency staff were in Australia – it all adds to life’s rich pattern.
Diabetes mellitus is another subject area that I returned to on several occasions during the year. This work was published on a gated website for healthcare practitioners (HCPs) and on another site aimed specifically at patients. For the HCP site, I was working as part of a small group of freelance writers, each of us charged with writing a particular part of the site.
I’ve also worked on two papers with a team of haematologists based at the Ospedali Galliera, in Genova, Italy. I’ve been providing editorial services to this group for three years now, and it’s always an absolute pleasure to work with them. They give clear briefs, respond quickly to queries and pay invoices almost by return – perfect clients!
Despite having worked as a freelance medical writer since 2003, I’d not done any regulatory writing until May of 2010. I found working on patient narratives surprisingly affecting. In primary papers and reviews, patients are little more than numbers, but working through the clinical trial data to put together the experiences of individual patients – the definitions of the severity of their illness, the comorbidities and concomitant medications that sometimes complicated their treatment, the crises that some patients experienced and to which some of them succumbed – somehow gave them substance.
The end of May saw me in London for three days to work with a digital/interactive marketing company that I first worked with in 2009 – always a joy to go there and see a different side of life.
I also really enjoyed writing a magazine article for the food industry during the summer. It’s the first time I’ve written commercially for this industry, and writing about something that everyone has a day-to-day experience of was quite refreshing. It was also interesting to get up to speed on new legislation and industry guidelines regarding fat and sugar levels.
Freelance copyediting and proof reading
Because my editorial background is in publishing, I enjoy keeping up links with that industry. I’ve been proof reading Henry Stewart Publishing’s Human Genomics journal since 2003. The subject matter can be quite challenging to read, but it is always interesting and gives me a different perspective on life – at the molecular level! The journal went from quarterly to bimonthly publication at the start of 2010, and so has been keeping me busier than usual.
I’ve worked with two new publishing clients this year; one in the scientific, technical, medical (STM) field and one general publisher. I’ve been doing on-screen editing using a fully online Quark-based system with the STM publisher. This is in complete contrast to Human Genomics, where hard copy proofs come in the post for marking up and go back to the publisher in the same way. In March 2010 I was a member of a team of proofreaders working on Baroness Stern’s report into the treatment of rape victims – while highlighting how far police and prosecutors have come in their approach to rape and rape victims, this report did not stint when pointing out how far we still have to go. It was sobering stuff to read.
Around a third of my clients are in mainland Europe, and these include a new med comms agency that I did some editing and proof reading for last year. This allowed me to revisit the colds and flu area, very much in the news now, of course.
Surely the highlight of my working year! Having talked about doing it for a long time, I took advantage of some down time in the early summer to capitalise on the things that I’ve learned while working on other people’s websites and write one of my own. Thanks to the wonderful Kris Jeary of Squiders Web Design (www.squiders.com), and with help from photographer Stephen Cole (www.stephenthomascole.com), my website www.freelancemedicalwriting.co.uk went live on 1st October. I also started tweeting (follow me at @jytricker) and blogging here at Trickerish Allsorts (although not as often as I’d like or should!) in addition to taking a more proactive role on LinkedIn (http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jytricker) in order to complete a social media circle of love.
So what’s coming up this year – who knows! That’s the joy (and the pain) of freelancing. I’m determined to take ISMPP’s accreditation exam in the autumn (which means that I’ve got to find some time to get my head down and do some studying) and I’d really like to be publishing blogs more regularly – but, of course, as a freelancer, it’s no bad thing not to have the time to write them. Watch this space!