“Without labor nothing prospers.” – Sophocles
“Work, work, work…working on my sh*t…” – Iggy Azalea
For Day 4 of my One Woman Festival That Is A Perfectly Suitable Alternative to Burning Man, I’m going to focus on a dearly held principle that is also not an easy one…Hard Work.
When I left my twenty-two year marriage, I was relying on freelancing as a copywriter/journalist to support myself and the three younger kids. I’d spent the last five or so of that marriage doing it part time (in addition to homeschooling the kids), and I simply amped up my business in order to make a full living.
Usually, however, when someone makes a career out of freelance writing, they have a savings cushion, for those lean times when a client is lost, or work dries up for a month or two. (Or six.)
I didn’t. I had zero savings. Zero cushion. We lived month to month, but I never missed paying rent, and we kept the electricity on. (By the skin of our teeth at times, but it was never cut off.)
When I lost my biggest client, though, I didn’t have it in me to skate on such thin ice continually anymore…I got an office job.
At first it was just part time, to fill in the gaps, but eventually it became necessary to just do it full time. I got a promotion, I got a raise, and we gained the stability of a steady check, every two weeks.
I make considerably less per hour than I could as a freelancer, but I still write, for GORGO, and for other various magazines and blogs. I both have to, financially, and I have to, in order to keep that part of me that is best expressed in writing.
But it’s suffered. My writing.
There’s very little creativity left in me now. I wrote some time ago about how an office job doesn’t have to mean that you’ve given up, as a freelance writer, and I meant it. I still do.
But it takes a lot out of me. In many ways.
I’m usually too rushed in the mornings to write, and too tired in the evenings. Freelance gigs are welcome, in that we need the money, but it becomes more and more like a gun in my back instead of a song in my heart, and that sucks. It sucks to have the one thing that you’re really, truly good at taken and turned into just another thing you have to do. To never have enough time to rest enough to let your imagination go, and focus on the things you’d love to write about, the things that make you smile and think, “Sh*t, I’m a f&^%ing genius!” when they’re done.
To not have enough time to do your best on things that people are paying you for, or depending on you to write for them.
Because I haven’t had enough energy in a long time, to be able to do what I’m actually capable of.
But I still do my best.
And mostly, that’s enough.
I’ve also gotten to have another experience; working with a fantastic group of people.
For the first time, this past year, I’ve had the experience of hiring people.
And…I’ve fired someone.
I’ve learned things, both about myself, and companies. Some good, some bad. I’m very grateful that I get to work where I do, and that this job was available when I needed it, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that the contrast of working for yourself vs. working for a company has made me vehement in certain beliefs that I was only moderate about before. It’s made me understand things that I didn’t get the last time I worked for a company, which was twenty plus years ago.
But let’s get back to the people I work with.
I get to laugh every day. Hard.
I’ve went to work and cried (literally) on co-workers’ shoulders.
The two people in my little team make my job so much easier, by being stellar employees, that it’s ridiculous. Between their hustle and their good senses of humor, what could be a headache is instead a winning situation, all around.
We’re together for the biggest part of most of the days of the week, and in our case, we’re facing each other, and sitting just a few feet away.
It could be really, really challenging, if someone was a turd in that situation.
Blessedly, for me…no one is. (I don’t know if the feeling is mutual. But ignorance is bliss, right? At least if I’m the turd…I don’t know!)
I guess my point is that there are always challenges.
The best world is one where the work that pays your bills is the kind that fills your soul, and you’re able to do it in amounts that leave you time to enjoy the rest of your life…while earning enough to allow for that, as well.
I don’t live in that world, at the moment.
But the people who populate the work world where I am, currently, make it the best one possible.
And for that, I am so, so grateful.