Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More Lessons in My So Called Freelance Life

Oy. So I spent the weekend working on a freelance project and it hurt. I've learned a couple more lessons about freelancing.

  • I need to establish a rule that if you don't get your job to me when you say you're going to, don't expect me to be able to turn it around on time.
  • And, if you're late sending me your job and still expect me to turn it around by the agreed time, expect to pay a rush fee.

The gal I've been working with said she would send me her paper Friday night. So I made plans to set aside my Saturday to work on it, that way if we would have Sunday to do revisions. Friday night, no paper. Saturday morning, no paper. Saturday afternoon I got an email saying she would get me the paper that evening.

The paper finally showed up at 11:30 p.m. And of course it was incomplete. Again. Tell me, how am I supposed to check if your citations are correct when you don't provide me with your list of references? The references showed up at 1:30 a.m. on Monday. So knowing I really wouldn't be able to work on it during the week (because, hello? I have a day job!) I was up until 4:00 a.m. to get it done.

She also told me that her instructor had seriously docked her for her previous paper, which I had edited. See, she was still writing it while I was editing it and forgot to add what she'd written to what I'd edited, so her paper didn't have any sort of conclusion and she also forgot to include the references. Thankfully, she didn't try to blame it on me.

Anyhow, I got an email from her Monday night saying she was going in a different direction with her project and would send me the new version of the current paper later. Um, let's discuss what you already owe me before you ask me to do it over. Because it's not my fault you didn't completely think through the details and implementation of your curriculum project before you sent it to me to edit. And believe me, I've done some serious rewriting on this paper to make it coherent and I have some mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, it's completely acceptable to work extensively with an editor when you're submitting something for publication. That's why editors have jobs. And these papers are clearly intended for submission to nursing journals. On the other hand, the reason she's doing the paper in the first place is because she's required to as part of her grade. And that's where I'm beginning to have concerns.

It's one thing to have someone proof read a paper to help you spot spelling and grammar errors, it's quite another to have someone completely rewrite entire sections of your paper because you can't write with enough focus to take a reader through your subject. I discovered this was going to be an issue when I completely rewrote the first 4 pages into a 1½ page introduction. At that point I sent her what I had done—1) so I could make sure that in my rewriting I was choosing the correct things to focus on, and 2) to try and express my concern. Here's what I wrote to her

I don't know how much guidance your instructor has given regarding the use of an editor, but at some point, the more rewriting that is done, the more the paper becomes a collaboration rather than your independent work. I'm worried that your instructor will notice a significant difference in tone and style from the previous two papers when compared to current paper, and I don't want you to get into trouble.

To which she replied, "This looks great. This is exactly what I need." Yes, I know. Believe me, I wouldn't spend my weekend sitting around rewriting an academic journal paper if it didn't need it. So, if her instructor comes back and accuses her of plagiarism or fraud, at least I warned her that there might be a problem.

But I have to tell you, I seriously hope I don't get sick and need a nurse any time soon. I know plenty of good nurses out there, and I'm sure she'll make a fine nurse. But based on my experience with with her the last few weeks, let's just say this is not the person I want making sure I'm being given correct dosages at correct times. Then again, maybe I'm just cranky from lack of sleep.


  1. There are good nurses out there. I am also appalled to say there are some AWFUL and STUPID and AWFUL+STUPID nurses out there with jobs.

  2. I learned a long time ago that I have to be on my toes around nurses... When I went to the hospital to start my insulin pump (1993), each new nurse would walk into the room and exclaim, "You don't have your IV started?!?" No IV was required... I am forever cautious with nurses, asking questions, and making them re-read orders. In this day of computers, at least a doc can type orders so a nurse is not trying to decode bad handwriting! (One just has to hope that the doc hit the right keys).