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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Glimpse Into the Mind-set of a Freelancer

It's hard to explain my lifestyle to someone who hasn't lived it.  But I will try.

I used to think all those people grocery shopping at 10:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. during a weekday were well-off, not needing a job, or on vacation like me at the time.  I have come to a new realization.

Yes, they could be rich and have no job.  Or they may work shift work.

Or they may work at home like me and have the freedom to avoid the crowds and shop when there are less people about.

I am proud to be able to work from home. Having spent three decades in my first career imprisoned in high-rises with windows that don't open, driving to work in the dark and/or driving home in the dark, trapped in a 9-to-5 rat race, being tortured by high heels and hose and uncomfortable clothing, I'm all about anything the opposite of that as I live my dream in my second career.

I am an author.

A very happy one supplementing my Amazon/B&N royalty checks with my freelance copyediting projects from a large NYC publishing house.  I thank God for that job.  It was one cog in the serendipity wheel that led me down the yellow brick road to self-employment.

Jumping from two paychecks a month on the first and fifteenth thereof in the same amount each time to wondering where the next one of any sum will come from is a big change.

But it you want it bad enough, like I did, you will happily make the leap into the air, wondering if you will hit earth with a thud, or cold water with no end, or hopefully a nice pillow-soft landing.

And repeat daily.


I read somewhere about an entrepreneur who paid half the bills one month and the other half the next, awaiting funds.  Now, I'm geared to be one of those anal types that pays upon receipt of the notice when money is there.  And is filled with guilt when money is not there to do so.  (Comes from a Methodist upbringing.)

As an sole proprietor, you have to get over it.

Yes, I'm sad to say, I have paid bills late.  (Isn't that part of the definition of "self-employed"?) When it becomes "too late" again and again, I seek a day job.

My requirements for this third job (counting author and freelance copy editor) are these:
  • no uniforms in the strictest sense of look-alikes purchased from the employer (although I might be convinced to wear a movie theater's if I get to view a whole movie for free each day I work--or even a free one weekly)
  • no 9-to-5 (been there, done that, never again)
  • some enjoyable perk (like the aforementioned free movie, but also grocery discounts or free food from a favorite restaurant, a matching 401k, etc.)
  • not more than five miles (one way) from my home and
  • someplace that I am not the sole employee so that I don't feel bad when I give my two-weeks' notice to quit once my real career picks up.
And one day it will, because I refuse to give up.  This is my calling.  This is my gift.  This is where I'm supposed to be.  Persistence counts for a whole bunch in this equation.  Call it stubbornness, if you must.  Either works.

All this will be a funny anecdote to inspire others on the first step of their destiny.

One side note here:  If you don't "fit" somewhere, the problem is not you.  It is where you are.  Don't ever forget that.  God made you "perfect," as is (the basic construction was perfect; we may have added some faults along the way that we must deal with).  Find YOUR place.  The one made specially for you and your unique gifts and talents. 

Back on topic here.  I put off the "day job" acquisition until I really need one, so I don't land a position to keep for a short duration when someone else out there really needs it more.

My first day job was at a pizza place.  I ended up as manager and I think I got 50% off my pizzas, if not for free if the owners were there.  Plus it didn't feel like a job.  I worked with some really great people.  I was there nine months.

Then I took off about fifteen to eighteen months and wrote like 250,000 words spread out over eight novels.  I was in heaven.

Followed by working at one of those box stores where the employees got a ten percent discount.  Made some really good friends there that I'm still in touch with.  That was a two-year stint.  I had no intention of staying there that long but, for one, I needed the extra money to meet the monthly expenses and, for two, you get lulled into the habit until something knocks you in the head to make you look and see if you really need to stay there.

I didn't.

So I've been happily home-bound for the last five months, currently squeaking through a tight spot.  But I still think I see God's handwriting on the wall, telling me to stay put, to stick it through, that good times are coming again.  And soon.

Now, let me be frank.  I live off of one-third what I used to earn.  And it may be another year or two before my e-books start selling enough to write home about, when my royalty checks total more than my freelance gigs.  Meanwhile, I still have a mortgage, but it gets paid.

I've cut out a lot of expenses.  I mean A LOT.  Some that you may consider important.  Some that I considered important.  However, I'm looking long-term, focusing on the brass ring.  Yet I'm grateful for what I have, maybe more so now than ever before.

Plus I have a safety net.  Over these five years in my fledgling career to establish myself as an author, I have two family members who have consistently supported me emotionally--but one was there through all the good times and the bad, and monetarily anytime when it got really rough. He knows who he is and I owe him a lot.  Thank you is the least of it.

So when I write blog posts, such as this favorite of mine and my readers:  "...Like You Are On Vacation," I am inspiring myself as well as others.

I'm keeping my mind-set on TODAY, not tomorrow.  If I have enough for today--and I do--I am blessed.  If I'm focused on THIS day, I am not wallowing in the past--a totally useless endeavor.  If I'm focused on THIS day and fill it with goal-reaching tasks, a dream day, then those will become my past.  And be stepping stones leading to my future. I wish that for everyone.

Now, back to work!

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