The future of Pinnacle Editorial, mountains as therapy, ptarmigans in decline, and some books to read | The Pinnacle
A change of direction for 2022 and beyond.
When I set up Pinnacle Editorial in July 2014, it was a step into the unknown for me, but a very welcome one. I'd been enduring a job I disliked for almost three years, and it was slowly crushing the creativity and adventurous spirit out of me. My passion for the outdoors was at a low ebb and my writing wasn't going anywhere. So I made the decision to be brave, quit my job, train as a proofreader and copy-editor, and begin looking for clients.
One of the first clients to come along was Sidetracked. I'd worked with the editor, Andrew Mazibrada, on a couple of successful sci-fi anthologies, and he invited me on board as sub-editor. I've been around ever since. Last year, Andrew stepped down and asked me to take over his role. This was a decision I didn't even have to think about; I agreed immediately, and remain both deeply grateful and humbled for his belief in me.
For the last year, I have been juggling my new responsibilities at Sidetracked with all my other work: writing, editing and gear reviewing at TGO magazine; big manuscript edits for private clients; writing my own books. This has worked, just about, but there have been some worryingly busy spells in which I've only barely avoided nasty calendar pile-ups. Frankly, it's been a bit of a surprise to be so busy during the pandemic, but a welcome one!
Next year I will be making some changes to the balance of my workload. We are expanding at Sidetracked. I will be spending more of my time each week working for this magazine, and not just the magazine itself – also the website, brand projects, and other exciting stuff we aren't ready to talk about just yet. We're doing more events, and I want to be involved in more of them. Time, however, is a finite resource, and these changes mean that I must slim down my workload elsewhere, because I've been at capacity for much of 2021 and that's no healthy place to be for too long.
I want to write more books. In fact, I'm planning one right now, so I won't be scaling things back here. TGO magazine is also important to me. Although I'll be doing a bit less there, I'll still be writing about trips and gear – that won't change.
This leaves manuscript edits for authors. This is something that I enjoy, and there's a lot of satisfaction in helping an author to improve and then seeing tangible evidence of that improvement, sometimes over several years and multiple projects. Work on book manuscripts has been the mainstay of my career for a long time. It's also helped me to grow as an editor and a writer. However, a big manuscript edit also occupies a huge amount of my time, energy and headspace for several weeks – sometimes more. This is no longer something that I can afford.
I still have a bit of work with a couple of author clients this month and in January, but once that has been concluded I won't take on any more. I'll close my inbox to private clients entirely and, for now at least, work exclusively with Sidetracked, TGO, and Vertebrate Publishing.
I'd like to thank all of my author clients – I have tremendously enjoyed working on all of your books over the years. Many of you have become friends. Please keep writing, and I'll look forward to seeing your new books!
As for Sidetracked, I am tremendously excited about what's around the corner. We have the best team. I know everyone says that, but I mean it wholeheartedly. John Summerton has always been wonderful to work with, and he knows how to draw the best out of everyone. Jenny Tough is someone I've grown to trust, like and admire tremendously and without her we simply wouldn't be able to function. Ben Barnes and Harriet Osbourne haven't been on board for as long, but they are working wonders with their organisational and technical skills, not to mention their experience with other organisations. The folk in our larger pool of regular contributors are all wonderful too, including (but not limited to) Tom Hill, Marie Audemard, Daniel Neilson, and Andy Summerton.
I'll finish by linking to this blog post from July 2019, celebrating five years of Pinnacle Editorial. Things really started to take off for me at about that time, and I remain both proud of what I've been able to achieve and conscious of the luck and good timing that have helped things along. This much also remains true: 'I can’t wait to find out where I’ll be in another five years – and I can’t wait to see how my clients continue to flourish and grow in their own careers.'
I've also published this post on my blog here.
Links of interest
Through the Ragnarök Fires – this superb story by Alberto Ojembarrena was one of the highlights of Sidetracked Vol. 21, and is now available to read for free online.
Mountains – the perfect therapy – 'When I first started out hillwalking my lack of experience and ability matched the lack of confidence I had in my own self, but as my physical fitness and skills gradually improved on the Scottish mountains so did my mental strength. Whether out on my own or with a companion every walk had a positive effect one way or another.'
My new book is out! Sherpa Hospitality as a Cure for Frostbite – Mark Horrell writes about his new book, which I edited. It's available on Kindle now and will be out in paperback soon. If you've seen the Netflix documentary 14 Peaks, I recommend this – it provides a huge amount of context as well as first-hand accounts of events, written by someone with significant experience on Himalayan expeditions.
Short story: The Berg – a remarkable short story by Richard Smyth about an auk and an iceberg, written (more or less) in English.
Warning of 'sharp decline' in Scotland's ptarmigan – sad and worrying. Ptarmigan are the jewels of the high mountains.
Some good books I have read recently – a fine list here from Alastair Humphreys.
Until next time,
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