Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks(giving) for nothing!

(Sorry, I'm a little late posting this. H. came over to drop some stuff off - namely the third season of Arrested Development on DVD - and by chance I had just bought a bottle of Irish whiskey. Naturally we had to polish off over half the bottle... It was only as he was leaving he spotted the single malt in the kitchen. "How come you didn't give me that?!" he asked, but then added, "Ah, don't waste it on me. Save it for Global Orgasm Day.")

First off, a Happy Thanksgiving to my wonderful American friends and readers! I hope the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie were all delicious. (I'm still looking for someone to explain why the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys always play games on Thanksgiving. You'd think they'd try to mix teams up a bit more.) I always consider U.S. Thanksgiving as the official beginning of the winter holiday season. In other words, I now give my permission for my neighbours to put up their Christmas lights. (Not that they've been listening to me - maybe it's a language thing - since almost every house around here is already heavily adorned with xmas decorations.)

I like the idea of a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving, and wish it's something Canada would adopt. Actually, scratch that idea: instead I'd settle for a day off sometime between New Year's and Easter. It seems somehow cruel and unusual that we're expected to slog away without a paid vacation day during the worst stretch of weather. How about Valentine's Day as a holiday (which would thrill my friend R., who says Valentine's is her favourite day of the year)? Of course I'm open to alternate suggestions.

I was out with a friend a couple of nights ago who is enjoying the freelance writing lifestyle. Thankfully he has a lot of work on the go so there's little fretting about money and where the next assignment is coming from. Still, and I didn't tell him this because it's not my place to lecture, he's not exactly following through on his original plan when he chose the freelance life. His original intent, and which I supported wholeheartedly (I might have even used the phrase, "Go for it" since I couldn't come up with the male variant of "You go girl"; "You go guy" just doesn't sing), was to write more of the types of stories that interest him, rather than churning out the hack trade journalism shit that he was writing and editing in his full-time gig. He wanted to write about music, for example, or movies. Entertainment stories, in other words. (He was carrying the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, as if to show where his real interests lie.) I even gave him some advice when he first made the freelance plunge: sure, take some of the shit that pays well, but also make an effort every week to query an idea for something that interests you, that you genuinely want to write about. I'm not sure if he ever heeded my advice (he wouldn't be the first to ignore me...).

But chatting about freelance did get me pondering the things I miss about the freelance life. And amazingly, sleeping in is not one of those things, probably because I consider myself a morning person. (I'm also something of an evening person, which usually makes the afternoon hours something of a wasteland.) I was fairly disciplined when it came to getting up and starting my work day at a reasonable hour - that would usually mean getting to my desk almost immediately after my (now-ertswhile) partner was out the door after receiving her "have a nice day" kiss (something else I miss!). And unless I had a looming deadline and the work just wasn't coming, I would rarely have to work late into the evening. I was able to keep regular hours, in other words.

Yet - and here is where the lament begins (please, keep your arms inside the ride at all times) - I do miss the afternoon nap. It wasn't an everyday occurrence, but I would usually indulge every few days for about 30 minutes on the couch. Oh glory be to have that luxury again! I also miss being able to run at lunchtime. It's much more difficult to sneak in a run with a full-time, out-of-the-house job - I either have to drag my ass out of bed at 6:30 (and even though I'm a morning person, I'm not necessarily a great morning run person) in order to get my mileage in before work, or run after work when I'm usually tired (and mildly cranky and not in the mood for a run). So basically it means I'm not as fit as I was a couple of years ago.

But the thing I miss most of all is the solitude of the freelance writing life. Or maybe even more than that, not having anybody looking over my shoulder while I work or questioning the method I chose to do my work. As a writer working for myself, I was judged on the final product, not on the process. Who cares how I got from A to B - the important thing was the B. Working full-time for a salary, the dynamic has changed. Yes, the end result of what I do (whether it's the finding aid or the catalogue record I create) is still important (and I do take considerable pride in my work, as I've always done), I've essentially become a salary man: I need to be seen occupying my chair for 7 hours a day, 35 hours/week. It's a constant source of frustration - I always get the feeling I'm "being watched."

All that said, would I want to give up my job to live the life of a freelancer again? Decidedly not. Sure, I still struggle with the lack of independence in my work, but I love what I do for a living. I feel it's meaningful, I'm passionate about it, and I'm relatively good at it. I have one of those jobs where, at certain times of the day, I think to myself, "Man, I can't believe I'm actually doing this for a living." I get a buzz from it. Of course I'd like to make more money - more important, I'd like to have some job security (in that respect it's not dissimilar from being a freelancer!) - but my work works for me.

Egads, what a boring post for others to read. Apologies. Feel free to blame the whiskey.

1 comment:

pseudodiva said...

My darling, quit apologizing for your posts! No one's forcing us to read them!