Friday, October 07, 2005

Who Needs a Real Job When We Have Writing

One of my colleagues in my Tuesday morning non-fiction writers group said once this summer, “Sometimes I think I should just go and get a ‘real job’ and not have to worry about writing all of the time.”
We’ve all been there. When I first started freelancing full-time seven years ago, things were great for the first year or so. I had built up our savings and was getting enough work to keep the bills paid. But like any business, I had my ups and downs, specifically after 9-11. 2002 was my worst year for my freelance business. Our savings dwindled and my husband started telling me, “Maybe it’s time to start looking for a ‘real job.”
I knew he missed the security of my working for a large corporation that was growing. I knew he missed the insurance benefits, the profit sharing and the stable income that allowed us to pick up airline tickets for weekend mini-vacations on a whim. I missed those things too.
What I didn’t miss was sitting in a pod surrounded by gray walls with supervision so tight that they told us what we could have at our desks to drink. And while I had a flexible schedule, that schedule had to be turned in and approved a week in advance and my sick time didn’t cover my dependant pets. I didn’t miss the 30-40 minute drive North toward the airport everyday, especially in the snow. And I didn’t miss wearing those hose!
So I persevered. I used the skills I had developed in the corporate world to market myself and network. I used my business degree for creative accounting and financing and we dipped into our savings as little as possible.
Now, the tables are turned. I think my husband sees the benefits of my owning a home based business sometimes more than I. Like my friend, I sometimes hear a voice in the back of my head telling me to just go and look for a ‘real job.’ After all, that voice reasons, wouldn’t it just be easier to get up and go into a 9-5 job, clock in and clock out and come home and not have the worries of dealing with my own business? If its not deadlines and reaching sources, it is marketing and bookkeeping. Although I have reached moderate success – and by that I mean the bills are being paid every month – I haven’t found the key to success that some writers have. Some of the writers on one Internet discussion board talk about what duties they give their paid interns.
I’m still trying to teach my dogs to take papers to the recycling pile for me!
Although my last vacation seemed it had a cloud over it knowing all of the work I had waiting for me when I returned, I can keep that voice in the back of my head that blathers about a ‘real job’ on mute most of the time. At least the work is here.
I told a writer who is entering the world of freelance the other day that I have never seen a profession where people work so hard to make so little money. I think I scared her, but she shouldn’t be.
I should have added, “but I’ve never done anything in my life so rewarding.” I wouldn’t have stuck with this since November 1, 1998 if it weren’t. At least I’m sitting here in a robe surrounded by the people, animals and things I love. And since writing is my therapy, I’ve probably saved myself thousands in counseling!
And I’m not staring at gray pod walls with a mortal head wound bleeding my creativity all over my desk while waiting for permission to have a drink.

7 Comments:

Blogger Redundant Redactor said...

Amen! Life is too short not to do what you want to do!

9:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Redundant Redactor said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:00 AM CDT  
Blogger s said...

Please take a look at www.marginalmonologues.blogspot.com for a glimpse of what passes for a "real job" these days. Like you, Kerri, I am self employed as a writer, and sometimes work is thin, but if what I experienced is how the "world of work" is operating these days, it's justification for self employment. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

9:47 AM CDT  
Blogger hooper2 said...

I think one of the greatest things about writing is sharing a piece of yourself with the world. When you're life is over, your thoughts, ideas, experiences will reamin for future generations to read. Most corporate America jobs don't allow you to leave such a personal legacy.

3:42 PM CDT  
Blogger Janet said...

Not being self employed as a writer, I can only say the "real job" experience makes me wish I had the talent to do what you are doing!

10:13 AM CDT  
Blogger wannabe said...

Writing remains a dream for many of us, so hats' off to anyone who actually does it professionally! Thanks for the news about the business.

12:16 PM CST  
Blogger metromon said...

Dog Food
Job
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Real Estate

10:53 AM CDT  

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