For about three minutes today, I fantasized about how I would spend $429.6 million in lotto winnings. Then I realized that since my thrilling character combination of being both super cheap and strongly analytical has prevented me from ever having purchased a lottery ticket, these were three minutes sorely wasted. Besides, once you are a legit adult, don’t you have to subscribe to that boring windfall rule of 1/3 toward debt, invest 1/3 and just 1/3 for splurging? Zzzzzz…
All this happened just moments before winning my own brand of lottery.
Writing between the hours of 9 and 5 is really difficult for me. And it’s taken me six years as a professional, full-time writer to recognize that it’s sort of a problem.
How it has always worked before is that I spent the almighty Designated Working Hours doing all of the writing tasks that are not writing: emailing, scheduling interviews, conducting interviews, editing, researching, invoicing, etc., etc. Actual writing was reserved for the couch, after hours or on the weekends. So that’s what I did.
Having grown up in a small tourist town in Northern Michigan, Memorial Day weekend has always been a different experience for me and mine. Tawasians don’t leave town for three-day weekends. Not only are we already in the kind of place most of the country is escaping to, but often, we work on Memorial Day. A town can’t close down when half the state is visiting. Plus, there’s invariably some parade of indiscernible tone happening that you have to be in or organize or attend.
Well, I had a kid. And here I am, back behind my desk, working on the new challenge of keeping a tiny person fed, clothed and housed with the same old task of typing thoughts into the internet. We could segue into the miracle of childbirth here, but everyone has heard that before. Plus, I personally found the experience less miraculous and more a sciencey. Very cool, life-changing, intense science, but it definitely fit more into the scientific marvel than mystic miracle category for me. Not sure why that matters, but there it is.
To me, the real mystic happening is how parenthood changes this, the state of being a freelancer. I am doing, or getting back to doing at least, the same thing I was doing six weeks ago. Filtering my inbox, reaching out to sources, setting up interviews, researching and crafting stories from the results. But my motivations, methods and philosophy around all of it have shifted. Not drastically, but still dramatically; the way a silver of sunlight in the corner of window changes the lighting in an entire house. Here’s how.
Freelancers have the worst bosses. When you are the one holding you accountable for everything every day, denial and self-deception often run rampant. In an effort to hold my own feet to the fire, here is my confession. This is how I lie to myself.
Like many dogs, Lois has a few internal alarm clocks. Unlike most dogs, none of Lois’s have anything to do with food. Lois is entirely driven by people and play.
People love to hate connectivity. Crabbing about our “always on” culture is so commonplace, people even do it from their mobile phones. On social media.
This makes my skin crawl. As a freelance writer whose livelihood is only possible by being always on and the technology that allows it, it irks me personally, but there’s a larger reason why the complaint is wrongheaded.
Sure, having to answer an email on vacation or during dinner is annoying. It’s a small problem, and people do go overboard sometimes. But isn’t not being able to make dinner because you can’t leave the office worse? Or having to leave a vacation early to deal with a disaster?
Today, I am in Rockledge, Florida living out the evidence of why the ability to be always on gives me the ability to have a richer life. Doing what I do, it’s possible to decrease my work dramatically for a week, but it’s pretty much impossible to stop it altogether, unless I want to take a serious hit to my income. But here I am, able to spend a week with my grandmother, mom, aunt, uncle, sister, cousins and brand new nephew because I can work wherever I go.
Last night, I wrote a story at my aunt’s house. Today, I did an interview at Downtown Disney. Then I spent the rest of of the day enjoying my loved ones. I sent some emails from the car. Tomorrow I’ll work for about half the day and then snuggle with my nephew for the rest of the weekend.
If this is always on, I don’t ever want to be off.