Apr 26 2016
First, read this quote.
The year didn’t start out that well for me, in terms of work. The lull was too long (maybe three weeks, plus the break I took in December to bond with family), and as much as I relished my 80s movie binge, there were only so many times I could watch The Terminator and Aliens. I also felt guilty for not being more productive, considering our expenses are higher this year–Layla’s gym fees have risen, and we’ve started Z on one-on-one Chinese lessons and a weekly science workshop. When work did start, there were one or two instances where I felt unappreciated. I probably shouldn’t have; I’m lucky to have friends trying to look out for me in some way, either by passing me work/contacts or encouraging me, or both. (I love my friends, I really do.) But it was what it was.
I had several meetings for potential retainer projects; for a freelancer, a retainer project is like putting a ring on it, where someone likes your work enough to commit to you. How it works for writers on retainers is that we would deliver a set number of articles–or some form of writing–each month, indefinitely, and get paid a fixed monthly salary. I’ve had two small retainer deals for some time, and several enquiries for larger-scale retainers, which I didn’t hear back about. For last year at least, I was too busy to follow up on retainer leads. I did hit my earnings target last year, but thinking about finances on a month-to-month basis is draining.
And my work routine. I’ve given up on working early in the morning. I tried but I was too dazed to write anything that made sense, and I decided that those two hours before Z gets up are better spent on sleep. So it’s back to working nights. My official hours are 10PM-2AM but I’ve definitely stretched it out. Sometimes Z thinks he can keep grown-up hours, which pushes work to 11PM or later. Other times, I’m so… bored from playing mom and keeping house all day that I want a break to do non-responsible, non-mom things. To listen to songs where people cuss and talk dirty, find out what’s really happening with my friends, and crush on TV/movie heroes. So that eats into work time–and I swear I haven’t even clicked on a TV series or movie in the last two months, no time! And then I’m up again at 5.30AM to braid Layla’s hair, fetch her socks, and fill her water bottle, and again at 7-ish or 8AM for Z’s breakfast. No afternoon naps, although I do have a lie-in if I’m flat-out exhausted.
But I’m in a good place currently. The last two months have been filled with new projects–everyone needs change and I do too, perhaps more than most. Also I firmed up a new retainer deal. It’s with an educational site that seems out of character for me as I’m known for being a chill parent (and I am, generally), but I do read it, and I have a fair number of hits coming in from their forum as well. I’ve just started with them and I’ve been given almost complete freedom in the planning and writing process–I’ve already learned a few things that are useful for me, as a parent, and they’ve been happy with my submissions so far and told me so. The articles I’ve written aren’t too different from the learning tips I might’ve posted on this blog; if you’d like to read them, leave me a comment and I’ll mail you the links.
I’m not sure how long this will go on. Like any partnership there will be ups and downs, and I’ve freelanced long enough (10 years) to not expect anything to last forever. I don’t expect anything in life to last forever! But I think I have a healthy work attitude–I always try to find something to enjoy about work, I’ve never missed a deadline, I’m open to feedback, willing to make changes, and I know when to exercise restraint or let go and not push a point, for my own sanity and to preserve relationships. Ok, I procrastinate and I’m easily distracted. But the client doesn’t get to see that!