Five years!

Five years ago Sunday, I went to the Kent County Clerk in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and filed DBA papers to officially open Last Syllable Editorial.

My goal in those early days was to make it to this anniversary. Data from the Small Business Administration show that about half of small businesses fail in the first five years. If I could make it that far, I thought, I’d be all right.

Today, officially, I made it.

In the last five years, I’ve edited or proofread six novels, seven nonfiction books (with another in process now), 1.4 million words across five volumes of The Reading Teacher, countless articles and slideshows for SheKnows, and more reports, papers, and other small pieces that I didn’t track or count.

My family moved once in those five years, and I was able to juggle my schedule around to accommodate the move. One baby was born, and I didn’t need to consult with anyone about doctor appointments during pregnancy. (I took maternity leave, too, although I decided afterward that it wasn’t necessary. Had baby Rosaline and I been less than fully healthy, however, I’d have needed that time.) Next Monday, that baby goes to preschool and her big sister, Margaret, goes to first grade. Having both of my kids in school all day promises to usher in a new era of productivity here at Last Syllable!

My other goal — other than to still be in business, still editing, still not wearing anything fancier than yoga pants if I don’t want to — has been to work on projects that are offbeat, interesting, and out of the ordinary. I’m still a generalist, and although I can divide my work into loose categories, I think I’m doing well in that regard.

Now that I’ve made it to five years, I have two more goals. The first is to get a tattoo: a feather quill, on my forearm, to celebrate this milestone. And the second is to retire from this job, oh, thirty years from now.

Thank you to all the writers, corporate clients, friends, and colleagues who rely on me and Last Syllable and who have made this day possible, and thanks especially to the old guard of editorial freelancers for paving the way and for showing me how very attainable these goals are.

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