Nicolette (Nicki) Gardiner is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in Gauteng. She believes that being a writer makes her a better editor, and vice versa.
Describe yourself in two sentences
A self-motivated freelance writer and editor with a passion for words. I am also family-oriented, and a loving and proud mother and doting grandmother to five adorable grandchildren.
Please tell us more about what you do and how long you’ve been a freelancer.
In 2012, after having been medically boarded as I have Multiple Sclerosis, I joined the Professional Editors Guild (PEG) and began my freelancing life. My career before had always involved writing and editing so I have many years of experience in these fields.
What does a day in your life look like?
This varies depending on my workload and what day it is, but I am always awake by 05:30. In March my routine changed somewhat when I lost my dear husband to cancer (who could have predicted I’d be widowed twice before I turned 60?). However, I still start the day by listening to a Christian devotion we would follow and then having my breakfast of black tea and cereal in bed while listening to the news. Usually my cat, Mischka, will be on the bed too, waiting to scrounge a taste.
If I have a deadline looming, I will head straight to my home office by 08:00 or otherwise I might have a Yoga or Pilates class or go for a swim in the gym pool. I try and exercise at least three times a week. When the weather is good, I love working at the table on my patio where the bird life and garden inspire me. I may have a Whatsapp or Zoom meeting with a client or get straight into work.
As I am driven when I am working and lose track of time, I have set an app to remind me to move every hour. What I love about freelancing is the freedom it gives me to organise my life. I work very hard when I have work but can also arrange coffee or lunch dates with friends or family. I may end my day with a glass of wine with friends or just by relaxing while watching TV.
Where/how do you find inspiration?
From people and life. Most of the stories I write are inspired by true life events. I have been a member of the Writers 2000 writers group for about 10 years and we set writing challenges every month. We are given a word or a phrase and have to write a story in exactly 65 or 200 words. It’s a lot of fun and an acquired skill and my stories (many of which have been placed) are often inspired by people or nature.
Writers 2000 is a great platform for writers of all levels and I have served voluntarily in various committee positions, including Chairperson, over the years. At the end of 2020 I stepped down and am enjoying just being a member, although I do mentor when asked to.
I have had three short stories included in published anthologies and those stories were also inspired by life. My grandchildren, from the age of four, get a story I write especially for them as a birthday gift. They give me a basic idea of what they want it to be about and I then research and flesh the topic out. What was very special for me about my stories that were placed in the Fiction category of the W2000 Annual Competition this year, was that they were stories I had written for two of my grandchildren. It was encouraging for me to have them acknowledged by the judge, a professional author and coach.
What advice do you have for other freelancers?
If at first you don’t succeed, keep at it! I began by editing academic work but came to realise that the editing niche I most enjoy is the editing of books, of all genres, followed by corporate work. I have edited more than 25 books and love assisting authors in crafting their words. Also to be professional in how you deal with clients. When asked to quote on a job, have your rates list ready to send to the potential client and submit a professional quote. We are competing with others in our field and need to stand out.
How long have you been a Safrean, and why are you a member of Safrea?
I only joined Safrea this year. Having discovered the benefit of being a PEG member and networking with other members, I thought it a good idea to widen my networking base to include other freelancers. Having previously attended some on-site Safrea workshops, I’d had some positive exposure. It was a decision I have not regretted and I have particularly enjoyed and benefited from the zoom webinars.
What is your work/life motto?
I have two:
- Inspired by my life as a Christ-follower, Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I’ve experienced extremely difficult times and my faith has brought me through.
- I have MS, MS does not have me! This applies to any potentially life-limiting condition. If you let it have you, you are giving in to it and letting it have power over you. In 2022, it will be 30 years since I was diagnosed and I have achieved much in that time that has surprised other people.