Reaching out

I consider myself an introvert. Even making telephone calls to a restaurant to ask if they are taking reservations for Mother’s Day makes me anxious. I have an awesome circle of friends, but friendships do not come easily to me.

My preferred mode of communication with people is email, with texting being a close second. I do not like to talk on the phone unless it is with a close friend or relative. Some people may say email is “the coward’s preferred method of communication,” and perhaps they are right to a certain degree. When I email or text someone, I cannot see their face. When I talk to someone face-to-face, I very often cannot look directly at their face. It is way too anxiety-provoking.

Despite all of what I just said, I like to welcome new members when they join the EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association). I get their names from the “What’s New at the EFA?” bulletin, which comes in my email and indicates in which city and state each new member lives.

I focus specifically on members who live either in Maryland or in the greater Washington, DC area, which are the areas closest to me (I live in a Maryland city that is a bedroom community of the greater DC area.) I look at each new member’s EFA profile and if it includes the member’s email address, I send them an email which reads something like this:

“Dear Ms. X,

My name is Suzelle Fiedler and I have been an EFA member for four years. I saw that you recently joined the EFA and that you live [in Maryland/in the greater DC area]. Welcome to the EFA!

I saw that you edit [person’s niche or niches]. I edit scientific research manuscripts, focusing on biochemistry (I have an MS in Biochemistry).

I hope you grow to love the EFA as much as I do.

Have a great day!

Best regards,

Suzelle Fiedler

Am I trying to stalk new members? Absolutely not! What I’m doing is called networking. If a member does not respond, I simply move on. If they do respond, often this leads to a friendly colleague relationship.

One final important thing: I do not reach out to men (or members whom I believe to be men). Things can get very complicated in a bad way when this is done.

If you are a freelancer of any kind, how do you network?

The Fiedler computer trio

Here, in the condo which my husband and I call home, reside three computers. I have to say that each of them has a soft spot in my heart.

I will introduce you to our electronic companions.

First, there is our desktop computer, which we purchased in January 2015. That’s right—it is now eight years old. In computer years, that is about 105. If our desktop had its own voice, it would sound like Grandpa from The Simpsons. It is currently running Windows 10, although it was running Windows 7 when we bought it. Why do we still have it? Because it still works. It is slow now and I would never use it for my work, but I like to use it for “fun stuff.” It has an excellent pair of speakers, which keep me going with techno music when I do household cleaning and which have done an excellent job of introducing me to Bill McClintock’s famous YouTube mashups. My only real beef with our desktop is that it has neither a webcam nor a microphone, so no Zooming.

Then, there is my laptop, on which I am presently typing this post. I bought it in June 2020 to use for my editing and business-related things. I’m not sure how old three years is in laptop years; maybe middle age? I love my laptop, even though I often yell and mutter at it (I tend to be somewhat vocal when I make a typo). My laptop came with its own webcam and microphone, so I can easily Zoom on it. There have been times in the past when it has scared me after I landed on an infected website. That is when I have called the tech-savvy husband of one of my best friends and pleaded for help. The laptop has always survived, however, and I am hoping that it will last a few more years.

Finally, there is “Henry,” my iPhone 13 mini. Henry has taken me for many rides along the internet (lowercased “i” according to The Chicago Manual of Style). Unlike our other two computers, he also houses my iTunes collection and can connect to the sound bar in our living room via Bluetooth. (If only we didn’t have neighbors sharing our walls and floor…) He can also connect to my wireless ear buds (doesn’t everybody have those these days?) but does not have a jack for corded earphones. I somewhat miss corded earphones; if one falls out of your ear, you don’t lose it forever.

What kind(s) of computer systems do you have/like?


We freelance editors tend to have thick skin, which is essential for our profession. After all, an author might not agree with an edit or a comment that we make, and we need to hear them out without getting defensive or nasty or curling up on the floor and crying. (Well, the last one might be okay in certain circumstances, since the author cannot physically see us.)

When people ask me what I do for a living and I tell them I am an editor, most of them look impressed. If they ask me what I edit and I say, “Mostly scientific research manuscripts,” they look twice as impressed.

However, if they ask me for whom I work and I tell them I am a freelancer, I get the polite, fake smile and the “Oh.”

The word “freelancer,” for some, has some negative stereotypic connotations. The one that makes me the angriest is, “Freelancing is for people who can’t get real jobs.”

Oh, really? A real job? I don’t have a real job? Then what do I have—a fake job? I sat at my computer editing until midnight last night as part of my fake job?

(Uh-oh, there I go being oversensitive.)

Seriously, though—please don’t use the expression “real job” around freelancers when trying to describe a job in which one is not self-employed. It’s insulting.

“Staff job” and “W-2 job” are some alternatives one can use to describe a job in which one works for another entity. If you are comfortable with it, you can also use the name of the company that employs you, as in “my Springer job.” (For those who are unfamiliar, Springer publishes scientific journals.)

If you are a freelancer, do you find the expression “real job” taboo? What do you do or say when another person uses it? What are your favorite alternatives for this expression?

See you in two weeks

Easter is not only my favorite holiday, but it has serious faith-based significance for me. Therefore, I will be away from my blog on Easter Sunday, April 9th. I will be back here on Sunday, April 16th (sometimes WordPress time-stamps my blog with Monday’s date, but I always blog on Sunday or Saturday).

Mental illness: Let’s take it seriously!

We have only scratched the surface. We are not doing enough.

I’m talking about addressing the mental health crisis.

One of the few positive things about the COVID-19 pandemic is that it brought the mental health crisis in the US to light. A countless number of people suffered from anxiety and depression during this time and many continue to suffer, as TV news has told us repeatedly during the last three years.

The TV news has also given us advice, advice, and more advice on how to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression.

This is all a good start, but we need to do more.

It seems that on TV (and in society in general) we can talk about depression and anxiety all we want, but the minute we start talking about more severe mental illnesses—bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, to name two—everyone runs away, including the news media.

Why is this?

Is it because people with severe mental illness are portrayed as dangerous and as monsters in many movies, entertainment TV, and books?

Is it because we like to film individuals whom we assume are mentally ill having fits in public and plaster their images on YouTube and TikTok so that our friends can laugh at them and call them “Karens” and who knows what else?

Is this right? Is this compassionate? Is this fair?

I think you know the answer to those questions.

I have to admit that I did not go to medical school, so I can hardly call myself an expert on mental illness. However, I can say that I have relatives and friends with severe mental illnesses, and life has been a struggle for them many a time. Several of them have been hospitalized due to their condition. They are ashamed of it and don’t want to reveal it to anyone, all because of the stigma surrounding it.

This stigma is what we have to fight. And we do so by talking openly about severe mental illness. We need to open up about schizophrenia and bipolar, as well as keep discussing depression and anxiety.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add that my relatives and friends with mental illness have been very successful in their lives and careers. But they would not have been able to do so without treatment, and people in general don’t seek treatment without information. And we get information by talking about the condition.

Are we ready to break the stigma?