i am a freelancer, and this is my life

The thing about freelance work–at least, the freelance work that I do–is that it comes and goes in waves. Some days, weeks, months, I am slammed, working on a hundred and seven books at once, most technical, some interesting, one or two deadly dull and not technical at all and what’s up with that? And it’s hard and it makes my brain sweat because that’s a lot of words, and a lot of pressure to make those words, and those layouts and those figures and those captions and all that information, perfectly correct in both the letter and the spirit of the word. And it makes me stressed and unhappy and tired and irritable and a big old wad of flowers spring right out my butt and die immediately and horribly.

Then, all-a-sudden, it stops. Everything is finished, or everything is suddenly on hold for indeterminate reasons usually having to do with sunspots, or the budget, or the sunspots on the budget, and then tumbleweeds start rolling through and a mournful, lonely whistle sounds on the horizon and I slowly begin to relax. My brain unclenches. My days start to seem to stretch endlessly before me while my to-do lists inexplicably dwindle down to no items at all. I start sleeping late, then later, and then I am sleeping until noon and rolling out around noon thirty to putter around the house and scratch the cat’s ears and go hum dee hum, maybe today I will take a bath. And then a nap! And then, a nap in the bath! And then, lunch. Twice.



Eventually, I rein myself in and remember that there’s a reason I
wanted a schedule like this, and I’m up at reasonable hours, I’m
writing my lists again, I’m accomplishing things around the house
(except for hanging curtains. I have got to get on that.). I’m writing,
I’m submitting stories, I’m running errands, I’m riding my bike and I’m
being productive and happy and getting out of the house and feeling
fulfilled and things are awesomely great and my life is so perfect, I
could just scream at the top of my lungs and startle the shit out of
everyone! These are the good days, that I like the best, and they are
among the top five reasons I am so very glad I have made the choices I
have, go team Me!

I forget that there is (dramatic pause) a price. Those busy,
stressful weeks, they are what I need to go through to get to the other
side where everything is OMG totally awesome, and I get resentful when
I get busy again. When my awesomeness is suddenly rudely interrupted. I
get irritated, I want to procrastinate, it is unfair that I have to
like, proofread, and it is boring and sucks.

Right now, as of this week, things are busy again. Two books on hold
have gone live, and I’ve got a whole new project in proofs and another
one on the way, and every time I get another email, I sigh and roll
my eyes and mope around the house and sigh some more and feel sorry
for myself. Oh, poor me. I have got paying work. Poor precious me, I
forgot I have a job.

I’m not asking for sympathy–I know it’s dumb. Mostly, I’m laughing at
myself. Mostly, I am bookmarking this moment for future reference. Hi,
hello, future me! Shut up, princess, and go get that stuff out of the
way, okay? The faster you get it done, the faster you get back to the
stuff you like. Do you know how lucky you are? I do. I know how lucky I
am. So I’m going to act like it.

  4 comments for “i am a freelancer, and this is my life

  1. Anonymous
    June 10, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Of course you know how lucky you are, but it can still the knock the shit out of you when everything hits at once. Freelancing can be delightful, but the feast or famine, roller-coaster-y aspect of it can be tough. Sweat through it now and soon there will be more play time again!
    Hope you’re pre-paying on the taxes? Otherwise you’re going to get slammed later! You can get some kind of ID # from the gov and then you’ll have taxes taken out of the freelance checks you get. Ouch now, but no huge ouch later.
    By the way, and completely apropos of nothing, you were SO RIGHT about Almay Smart Shade! Wow.

  2. M.
    June 10, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    I am the only native English speaker in my lab. Everyone’s Russian, Indian, and Chinese, so naturally I edit all the papers. Like the one I did this weekend, which was 11 pages of single-spaced Englussian. There must be HUGE differences between Russian and English comma use. I understand how you feel. I’m sorry.

  3. Shana
    June 10, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    I have yet to acclimate to the freelance schedule, and I’ve been doing it for nearly 10 years. I get busy, busy, busy and I get paid, paid, paid! Then I get slow, slow, slow, and, oops, what do you mean you’re not going to pay me for doing nothing? Ten years, you would think I’d be able to get a better handle on that whole “save some money for the slow times” concept. But, no.

  4. anon
    June 10, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Oops, that’s me up there, with no name!

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