Thursday, October 05, 2006

Room With a View

by Kristine Coblitz

When I made the move from full-time office employee to home-based freelance writer a few months ago, I thought the transition would be easy. I’d jump out of bed every morning and work in my pajamas, sipping cups of herbal tea while the words flowed from my fingertips onto the keyboard. Daydreams of completed manuscripts danced in my head.

This was going to be great, I thought. No more 50-minute commutes in rush-hour traffic. No more sitting at a desk in a caged office counting the hours until quitting time. No more meetings about profits, sales goals, or teamwork. I became a corporate dropout and was damn proud of it. I still feel that way.

When reality set in, I learned that it takes a lot of discipline to be a home-based freelance writer and that there are all sorts of distractions (such as The Food Network and dirty laundry) available to pull me away from the computer.

Nancy Martin talked about “bum glue” in her post a few days ago, and Stephen King, in a recent article, said that the writing life consists of “basically sitting on your ass” and that the life of a writer is “about as interesting as watching paint dry.” This is especially true when editing articles about hydraulics and manufacturing equipment, which is how I spend half of my day. The other half is spent working on my fiction writing.

Making it as a freelance writer means dragging yourself out of bed when you want to sleep in, getting dressed when you want to stay in your pajamas for days on end, and planting yourself at the computer until you reach your page quota or finish the work needed to meet your deadline. It also means getting out in the world among other humans every once in while so you don’t become a hermit. The latter has been particularly important for me.

For a freelance writer, time is money. If I don’t work, I don’t bring in money to help pay the mortgage. I no longer have the luxury of a steady paycheck, and I’ve had to sacrifice a lot financially to make this move happen. But believe me when I tell you that it’s all been worth it, and those “necessities” I thought I couldn’t live without suddenly weren’t as important anymore.

So it’s not all bad. I count my blessings every day. My corner office with a view is now a spare bedroom I share with the dog and his toys. I can look out my window to watch the activity on my street in suburbia. When I get stressed out or need a change of scenery, I can play with my dog or take a brief walk. But I also have to fight the temptation to take those daily mid-afternoon naps (nobody would know...).

Do I miss the corporate world? Nope. Do I have more appreciation for full-time writers than I did before? You bet. I confess that some days I do work in my pajamas, but I always get dressed before making the trek outside to get the mail. I’ve got my standards, after all.


debralee said...

Great post, Kristine!

Now that fall has arrived, if your pajamas are sweats and tee shirt, I find you can trek almost anywhere outdoors.

Brenda Roger said...

Years of sewing handbags full time had many of the same challenges. Being at home with all of my failures as a housekeeper staring me in the face while I was trying to be stylish and creative were brutal. Also, scheduling POSITIVE contact with the outside world is critical!

Great Post!

Joyce said...

Now, if someone would only manufacture some real "bum glue" so we won't be able to get out of those chairs!

Nancy said...

The evidence is clear. My bum definitely shows how much time I spend in my chair! Keep taking those walks, Kristine!

Joyce said...

Mine, too, Nancy. If mine gets any wider I won't have to worry about the glue!

Tory Butterworth said...

My dirty little secret is I take the trash out on Thursday mornings in my (very unrevealing) nightgown. I want to take my shower AFTER I finish my exposure to dirty kitty litter and I'll be damned if I make another change of clothes in order to take out the trash.

My evidence this morning is that if someone sees me, they discretely look the other way.

Cathy said...

Years ago when I lived in Crafton, I attempted to work full time as a free lance writer. I lacked the discipline to do it, needed the structure of a day job. This valiant attempt failed. So that is why I like to combine my massage career with the writing. Keeps me sane.

Great post, Kristine, and so true. Glad you're following your dreams.

Judith said...

Kristine...seems that all of us who work at home have the same joys and dilemmas. This morning I got involved in my writing and when the doorbell rang at 11 AM I realized I was still in my fluffy robe and slippers and my hair looked like I had been caught in a tornado. The guy on the other side apologized profusely for having woken me up. LOL Oh Well. Glam is in the eye of the beholder on some days.

Annette said...

While it's true that use of bum glue is hazardous to one's waistline, I remember several years back working in an office with a room full of vending machines just around the corner. The job was incredibly boring and everyone in my office lived for lunch. We started an hour early, debating where and what to order and filled the time in between with snack runs. I had to get out of there before I put on 20 pounds!

At least here at home there is the opportunity to take a walk. And, yes, Debralee, sweats are a wonderful thing!

Kristine said...

Annette: Working in an office was horrible for my figure, too. Vending machines and take-out lunches were bad, but even worse were the baked goods everyone brought in--birthdays, deadlines, you name it. There was always a reason for cake.

Nancy said...

Hm. Words to live by: There's always a reason for cake. Could be a good motto, huh?

Gina said...

I find it hard to get dressed on the days I stay home to write, too. Sometimes I find myself on the back porch, barefoot in a nightgown, calling the cats to come in out of the snow.

Pat said...

I'm supposed to get dressed? like everyday?
Maybe I've been working at home too long.