Monday, August 04, 2008

My So-Called Work Life

I don't write much about my freelance work here since (1) it's largely me sitting at my computer reading, how much is there to say? and (2) obviously I can't identify projects or clients, though some authors say the darndest things which would make for entertaining blogging.

I'm pleased to report that despite being without Aaron and then our long slacking-off vacation period, I actually did some work and earned some money in July. Some years it seems like the publishing world grinds to a halt in July and I've ended up twiddling my thumbs. This time I had the work and simply took a break from it, but I've already made up for a lot of that and hope to keeping pushing through August and beyond.

For too long I've been the World's Laziest Freelancer. After I left my publishing job and starting working freelance for them, when we moved to Oregon, I didn't even bother finding any other clients for about three years because hey, they kept me busy enough and I earned enough to get by. I didn't treat it like a businessmore like something I did a little bit of in between important youth ministry work and frivolous walking on the beach (and the important work of walking on the beach with frivolous youth).

By the time it occurred to me that we really should have one of those mythical emergency funds I'd heard tell of, life started coming after us to show me why. Travel to see family got expensive. We got a house and the siding ate our savings. I found out just how much eye surgery, MRIs, and heart surgery cost, and even though we have decent insurance, the copays, labs, and prescriptions started to add up. The church budget tanked. We took on adoption and travel to Ethiopia and the budget-buster that is baby formula. And, of course, our beloved human distraction, whose limited command of the English language is so far holding her back from being much help in the family business, has been teaching me the difference between working at home and being a work-at-home mom (it's kind of like the difference between one job and two jobs three jobs one job with seventeen thousand tasks per day).

Yet I've been trying a bit harder to think of my work as a business and expand my "client list" and it's been starting to pay off. I've also had some conversations about work or jobs come to me on someone else's initiative, which is great for the self-esteem even if no work comes from them. Maybe I could really do this thing.

Still, I have to remind myself when it gets slow and/or I don't get any feedback on my work and I wonder, as every freelancer does, did they figure out I'm a fraud and cross me off their list? that they like me, they really like me!, or they wouldn't keep saying so or sending me work. And the nightmare I had about being made to take an editing test when I dropped by my old workplace didn't come true. Maybe I should really do this thing.

Time to push harder and find out how far I can go.

Everybody needs an editor, and yes, today I can say with great some temporary confidenceI'm a good one. Tomorrow? Tomorrow I may well feel like an unwanted, bankrupt incompetent again. Such is the freelance, writing, and creative life.

If I weren't so alone and afraid
They might pay me what I'm worth
Mark Heard, "Nod Over Coffee"


RMMcDowell said...

AMEN. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh I know this one. I felt exactly the same when I had my own practice - always had enough work but also always privately feared that it would all dry up when people decided not to use me any more. Not rational, but there it is.

I have no doubt that you are a rock star editor. If I had a book to edit, I'd send it right to you. :-)