By now, I think you’ve got the general idea about my attitude toward my job. I love it, it rocks so hard, if it were human I’d want to French kiss it every day, etc.
But let’s face it: Everything in life has upsides and downsides, pros and cons, positives and negatives.
I’ve given you the positives.
Now let’s talk about the negative aspects of being a full-time freelance writer…
…besides eyestrain, arthritis and The Hemingway Defense.
1. Nobody has any idea what to say when you tell them what you do for a living.
Now, this really isn’t a problem amongst my circle of friends and acquaintances. After all, they face much the same confusion at cocktail parties when someone asks the inevitable question, “What do you do?” and they answer, “I’m the artistic director of a theatre,” “I teach acting classes to children” or “I’m a playwright.”
But holy marshmallows, if you ever want to see somebody’s head explode, try telling a room full of lawyers, doctors, engineers and accountants that you write for a living.
“So…like, what do you write?”
“You mean you can actually make a living at that?”
I appear well-fed, do I not?
“How much money do you make?”
How much money do YOU make? Will you give me some?
I’m sorry, are you laughing at my career choice or my outfit choice? Because either way, I WILL CUT YOU.
I cannot emphasize this enough: All the things in quotation marks are the responses of well educated, adult human people immediately after I answered their what-do-you-do question.
(All the things not in quotation marks are what I wish I’d said.)
2. Nobody thinks you have a real job or any responsibilities or purpose in life except to be at their beck and call to do all the menial tasks that they deem themselves too busy or important to do.
E.g., anything that requires one to stand in line.
It’s very similar to being single, actually.
My schedule is, for the most part, very flexible, so I am often able to do things at a moment’s notice, like pick up kids from school, give someone a ride to the mechanic’s garage or take your dog to the vet.
But all of my friends have learned to ask, not assume.
Assuming is a one-way ticket to this:
(Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography.)
3. My parents don’t think I have a real job, either.
Are they proud of my talent? Do they delight in seeing their daughter’s byline in magazines? Have they been known to buy 20 copies of the newspaper and mail them to friends all over the country?
Do they think of me as gainfully employed?
In my parents’ estimation, a Real Job has the following characteristics:
–You must dress in “business casual” attire, i.e, khaki slacks, preferably the kind with mom-pleats in the front.
–Your office must have fluorescent lighting and not be located inside your house.
–You must arrive no later than 8:00 a.m.
–You must take a one-hour break for lunch. No more, no less.
–You may not leave before 5:00 p.m.
–You must hate it.
Thus, I do not have a Real Job.
4. The paperwork will eat you alive.
As a freelancer, you are, in effect, self-employed.
I thought this a trivial detail…
…until the first time I filed taxes.
In early 2009, I flounced into my accountant’s office (yes, thank God in heaven and all His seraphims, I did at LEAST have the good sense to hire an accountant) and presented her with a couple of 1099s.
“Where’s the rest?” she asked.
“The rest of what?” I was puzzled.
“Oh, God,” was her only answer.
BE YE NOT SO EFFING RETARDED.
Before I get into this next part, I am legally obligated to inform you that I am not an accountant or a tax professional of any kind, as if you couldn’t read the preceding nine sentences and figure that out for yourself.
If you become a freelancer, you have two options:
1. Keep up with every shred of paper that documents how much money you made, learn the intricate rules of tax deductions, save receipts for everything work-related that you purchase during the year (from airline tickets to paper clips), track your mileage and file all this information someplace that you can get to it every January.
2. Empty your savings account, kiss the money goodbye, then hand it to Uncle Sam.
It’s your choice, but all things being equal, I prefer #1.
5. Health insurance sucks.
These days, it seems like everyone’s health insurance sucks to a greater or lesser degree, but for no one is that more true than the self-employed freelancer.
Lemme put it this way:
Here are, in order, the things I liked most about getting married:
1. Spending the rest of my life with my one true love, my soulmate, mi media naranja, etc.
4. HEALTH INSURANCE!!!!!!!!
Have you heard about this fantastic new concept called a “copay”?!
It’s terrific! Basically, what it means is you go to the doctor’s office, and you do NOT have to write a check equal to your car payment!
I know, right?! GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Again, I am not a financial or insurance professional. If you thought for one hot minute that I was, then you obviously started reading at this sentence.
But what I did before I got married was carry high-deductible, low-premium insurance (what’s commonly known as “major medical” or “catastrophic” insurance), and I had a membership to a concierge medical practice. That way, I didn’t have to choose between going to the doctor when I got strep throat or eating that week.
So now that you know the good, the bad and ugly of freelance writing, next, I’m going to show you one of the best perks of all:
My new home office!
Your sorting and filing