Thursday, December 27, 2007

Office-Job Envy

I've said it before, and I'll say it again (and again). I love freelancing. Taking my business full-time 5 years ago is one of the best decisions I've ever made. It's rare for me to think wistful thoughts about being back in an office. But today is one of those days where I'm struggling with extreme Office-Job Envy. Why? For the simple reason that I know I would have taken this week OFF. As in, no working period. No guilt about down time or family time or personal time. Instead, though, I am struggling to stay productive and focused on my several remaining 2007 deadlines.

Publishers love to collect as many projects from freelancers by the tail-end of the year as they can. It's nothing new, just tradition. Now, I know the same thing goes on in-house: writers are scrambling to pass copy to editors; editors are scrambling to move manuscripts into designers' hands; and on and on and on. Worker-bees/departments/companies in publishing and every industry want the decks cleared for a fresh start on January 1.

It's just that as an expendable freelancer, I often can't afford to schedule my breaks exactly when I want them. Yes, my days are my own to structure as I wish. But to make a living at this, I have to make myself available when it suits the clients. I have far less input — usually none — into any schedule (besides saying "No, can't do it" and waving good-bye; something I do on occasion) than office workers who can jockey for those last gulps of conference-room oxygen and better project schedules than their in-person colleagues. So, if I really want to work on a given project, my schedule must be more flexible than the client's and the nameless, faceless next writer-editor on the client's contact list.

Whine over. I'm happy for the work. Really, I am. I'm just sleepy from too many sweets in the house and a cold rain that's keeping me from a brisk "shake it off" walk. All the out-of-office autoresponders coming back to me aren't helping, either, but at least I don't have to fully engage with anyone this week. Big plus! The only thing left to do is completely erase from my mind that my husband is "vacationing" upstairs. And to start thinking ahead to my next dedicated block of vacation that I hope doesn't pan out due to loads of great work I coudn't bear to turn down.

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