I’ll be the first person to warn anyone thinking of going into either full-time fiction writing or freelance writing (both of which I do) that the revenue stream is, at best, unpredictable.
That’s been the running theme here at Chez Pruden for a few months. In May, one reliable client decided not to continue with a major account, resulting in less work for me and other freelancers on the team. And just a few weeks ago, another client for a long-term non-fiction book project decided that they didn’t want to pursue their project further.
Not the end of the world, by any means. I’ve had low spots before for far worse reasons, and I’ve continued to mine for work through social media and good, old-fashioned cold calling to prospective clients – basically the things that have to get done to make a buck as a freelancer.
But when all that bad news comes in a two-month span, things can get a little disheartening both professionally and financially. Where normally I’d have visions of dollar signs – all with three- and four-figure numbers – dancing in my head, lately those dollar signs have been followed only by big, fat goose eggs.
So I went digging again, this time with an eye towards not just freelance gigs, but a short-term on-site arrangement that would allow me to maintain my schedule and earn some predictable income for a few months while the rest of my professional universe righted itself.
Turns out it didn’t take much digging after all. Here I sit at the end of my first week – three full days – at a very nice job working in a university communications department doing things I’m good at and feel very comfortable with. The job is straightforward, the people are nice and I’m out of the house a few days a week without sacrificing my potential to take on other projects or be there for my kids.
In other words, I’m TCB – taking care of business. And doing it any way I know how.
Because in the end it’s all about contributing to the cause. If you’re single, that cause is paying your bills, covering your wants and having some beer money left over. If you’re married or otherwise entangled domestically, the cause is supporting the family unit. Am I bummed my other projects fell through? Absolutely. But finding something to fill in the blanks in a reliable manner softens the blow.
The question is really, what’s your definition of happiness? For many people it’s just code for doing whatever you damn well please. I’d argue that this is an inaccurate and inevitably disappointing perspective. Happiness for me is contributing – adding some funds to the family pot, creating good art, being there for my family and being willing to tamp down the bad stuff in favor of the good.
I like to think it’s a great example for anyone digging for work – freelance or not. Sometimes the perfect job presents itself, and sometimes you just have to take the jobs that present themselves until the perfect one comes along. In spite of my distaste for the platitudes people dish out in times of crisis, sometimes one closed door does lead to one that’s open. You just have to be willing to find that door, and then have the courage to walk through.
I do indeed have a brand new bag, and it will do quite nicely until the next one comes along.