Today, Facebook told me that it had been a year since I started fully leaning into the freelancer’s life. I listed it as my job on there this day last year even though for years before that day I had been working 17 hour days where I’d get up at 5am to write or start my early morning job and then write when I got home. During those 17 hour workdays, I often held two retail jobs.
My days were long, and my work went wholly unappreciated by most people. That mainly had to do with the fact that I didn’t show many people my writing at the beginning. It was too fresh, new, and raw too be seen by others. I was still honing my craft and voice—hell, I’m still sorta doing that. Editors and clients I work with have mentioned and talked on my style, noting it as beautiful and evocative while being immensely impressed by how I communicate themes.
What they are talking about, I am sure, is my ability to turn an idea, a few words, into a story that is worth more than a glance. A story that deserves to be read and then read again to see if what they read the first time was right. My style and work has grown immensely in the last year since leaning into my freelance business. A lot of it has to do with the unconditional support that my partner gives me in the way of paying for our rent while I handle the bills, or listening to me frustrated and tired rant about how I have to rewrite something because an element doesn’t work, or get emotional because I feel like no matter how hard I work, I’ll never be as good as I want, as good as people have said I am—I’ll just always be…a wastebasket.
If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I would have made it through this year as a freelancer so gracefully. My fails would have felt worst, and I’m not sure if I would have had the outside influence of someone saying that what I was doing was worth it. That the pain that I felt had nothing to do with my talent, and that, yes, yes, of course, I am good enough. I’m a garbage can not a garbage can’t.
Honestly, though, this last year has felt like a mixtape of bangers, sad songs, and everything in between. I’ve felt like I can’t keep going down this road and have to abandon it to return to my 17 hour workdays where I spend 8-12 hours working at a day job and the other 8 hours doing what I really love. Day jobs are easy. You show up, you smile and lie, give them what they want so that they can leave you alone long enough for you to feel good about yourself in public, so that you can reserve the energy to then go home and work on things that matter to you and that require and deserve your full attention.
But, day jobs are also really nice and comfortable. Knowing that you’ll get a check at the end of the week or month makes taking a breath easier. Especially if that job comes with healthcare or any other benefits like discounts on clothes, books, food, anything really that helps making living easier. As a freelancer, most of my months start out at zero. I’m getting more into the flow of things as I grow as a business and a professional in this hectic publishing world, so that now my months start off with me knowing that I’m going to make at least $500 a month—which isn’t a lot to live off but it is a great place to start if all your work you hustle up yourself.
That’s been my recent goal and plan. To at least make enough to cover what I need to survive and help support my home. That goal is a small one of $1,000 a month. If I can pull at least that much in only working 3 days a week, then I’ve won for that month in my book. Each month the game starts again. I drum up business and sale more content. Get my name out there to more publishers, readers, editors, and clients. That’s the freelancing life for me. Thinking up ideas on what I want to write or work on, then going out there and getting that type of work through communicating with people who can help me while also helping themselves.
And the other 4 days of the week are totally for me and mine. I work on my personal projects, hang with friends and loved ones, and do whatever else I want. It sounds great and is, a lot of the time, but stress as a freelancer is a bitch and a real drag. So, I have to manage that and make sure I don’t over strain myself or focus on other people’s projects on my me days, but sometimes I find myself answering an email that I should just wait till Monday to focus on because I want to get it out of the way and clear it from my plate then and there. It’s great sometimes, but I do have to toss my phone away every now and then so that I don’t fall into that accidental work hole.
A work hole for me as a freelancer is different than when I used to work as a logistics leader in a large retail store. Then my work hole would consist of me working 12+ hours trying to dig my team and departments out of a backlog of work, or covering for someone’s shift if I couldn’t get anyone in. Now, my work hole looks like me working through a draft of a fantasy adventure and talking with my client about the best ways to showcase a fight scene. Which in my opinion is a thousand times better than any work hole I’ve ever been in. It gets dangerous when your work is something you love because you can lose sight of the other things in your life that are just as important.
That’s the other thing that I try to focus on, making sure I have a good balance of the things that I love on all fronts. It doesn’t always work out, and somedays I spend more time behind a computer than I should. But the seasons are changing, and things are starting to spring again, so I have high hopes of taking this ol’ body o’ mine outdoors more and more as the sun starts to warm things up a bit on my side of things.
All and all, this year has been a great one. I’m living the dream that I’ve had since I was able to dream, and that’s very real.
If you want to help support me and the work that I do, please don’t hesitate to check out my Patreon where I offer tiers that give supporters early access to my drafts, chance to have their pieces edited by me, and other sweet benefits and perks.