Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Guilty on all counts...

  • Working from home and not respecting my own boundaries (i.e. "end of day" means I stop working). Too many nights over the past few weeks spent working on various projects late into the evenings. Verdict: Guilty.
  • Giving the cat Albacore tuna (not cheap, BTW) three days in a row because I haven't had time/energy/inclination to go to the grocery store and buy cat food. Verdict: Guilty.
  • Not showering/washing my hair for TWO DAYS IN A ROW. Verdict: Gross.
  • Ordering Pad Thai for dinner last night because I didn't want to cook and my pantry was running low anyway (see: not going to the grocery store). Verdict: Guilty.
  • Writing, but the kind of writing that won't see the light of day for some time. Let's call it cathartic writing, except that it stopped being cathartic and instead has caused hostility, anger, and a general bad mood to resurface. I've been in therapy on and off since childhood and I should know to leave it be for a while by now. But I don't. Verdict: Guilty. And stupid.
  • Being happy that it rained all day Monday so I didn't have to take the dog for a long walk - meaning no exercise for me either and I spent the entire day with face in computer. Verdict: Guilty.
  • Feeling guilty about all of the above and not cutting myself very much slack. Verdict: Guilty.
What can I say? Do you want to hear about all of the billing I have out for work I've yet to be paid for? Do you want to know how difficult it is to make a living on a project by project basis? Do you want a rant about how worried I am about my COBRA running out at the end of the year and the possibility that I may not be able to get coverage because I'm diabetic? Alternately, I have another rant about paying $400 a month for health insurance. I made a commitment to be positive - no matter what happens, no matter how low my checking account dips, no matter how many unpaid bills or time I spend on projects that I may or may not get paid for?

I don't even want to hear about that. But after having lunch with a friend last week and an interesting discussion about appearances versus reality, maybe I should write here more often about what the life of a freelancer is really like. It sounds glamorous and exciting to say I work from home, I set my own hours, I pick the projects I want to work on. But it's all one big scramble to make ends meet, and some months they don't meet very well.

I hear from other writers all the time - some friends, some casual acquaintances - and they want to know how I do it. This is how I do it: by the seat of my f*cking pants. I know I'm lucky. I have talent and skills and have learned a lot of new things this year. I can build web sites from scratch, I can build online advertising networks, I can be a media planner, I can edit, I can write. Survival skills. Don't underestimate them. And if you're a young writer planning on taking the leap from your boring day job to the exciting world of freelancing, stop and think about it first. If you have employer sponsored health insurance and a 40-hour a week job, there are many hours left in the week to write and submit articles and see your byline all over the place so you can feed your ego. But keep the day job, at least until the economy turns around or publishers get smart and start paying living wages for online content, because print media seems to be continuing its downward decline.

Expect more honesty from me here. I don't want to be responsible for anyone thinking they're "less than" because it appears that I'm not only paying my bills, but rolling in all of the extra money I'm making because I got a book published and write articles for magazines sometimes.



  1. Thank you, Kelly. Many of us are in the same "freelance" boat and can certainly understand the whats and whys of the trouble in middle America....keep that head up, girl!

  2. Thank you! I've decided to be as honest as I possibly can without pissing off anyone who may or may not eventually send me money. :)

  3. " Do you want to hear about all of the billing I have out for work I've yet to be paid for? Do you want to know how difficult it is to make a living on a project by project basis?"

    Yes. Pretty much. I've got invoices from JULY that haven't been paid yet. It was heartwarming to see the employer who hasn't paid me pull up to a meeting in his 100K Mercedes. Really.

    It's a double-edged sword. We're lucky. But it's hard.

  4. Man Kelley, this is so on point today. Thanks for the honesty. It let me know I'm not alone.

  5. Kelly, I'm in a slightly different boat - laid off back in May and trying to start up a company. I've read book after book about how to do it, but in this economy?... I've gotten maybe 3 clients since then.

    I loved the honesty of this post. Hope we do get to hear more very soon.

  6. This post is so well-balanced and true. And honest. I think positivity is good, but not when it's a game of make-believe that everything is great all the time--a healthy dose of stark reality is good, too.

  7. This post was WAY overdue. Writing it and getting your comments back was just the boost that I needed this week. LOVE you all and I promise to keep up the reality here.

  8. I promise to visit you in jail, you criminal, you.

    Keep speakin' the truth.

  9. The great thing about your comment, Angie, is that I know that you would, should I be convicted for animal neglect, personal hygiene infractions, or general hostility. ;)

  10. I hate to think of how many safe job decisions have to be made because of health insurance coverage.


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