on funemployment/freelancing

So I’m going into week four of funemployment aka freelancing. There’s a lot to be said for being able to wake up whenever you want, taking extended holidays, making your own working hours, being in a position to pick and choose your projects… that is not my scenario. Not yet anyway.

I still wake up at the same time  because well, I still have a child. I can’t expect Hein to do the morning run on his own – get our daughter ready for school, make sure she looks cute, pack her school lunch, make sure she’s fed and give her a kiss from mommy before leaving for the day. Can you imagine all of this going on while I languish in a horizontal position pretending I’m deep in sleep. No. That would be selfish. And as much as sleep calls, I don’t want to miss those morning moments. So I’m up at 6.30am as usual – though lately as my belly gets heavier and I lose more sleep from the constant bathroom runs throughout the night, I’ve been dragging myself out of bed closer to 7am.

After dropping off Maya at school, it’s off to drop off hubby at work. We use one car you see. After both our cars were broken into the first weekend we moved to Cape Town (one day after the other) we decided to leave Hein’s car at his work and park mine in the one garage allocated to our flat. We’ve learnt our lesson the hard way. This is one thing we’re not compromising on when we buy our next home. Two off-street parking bays – non negotiable.

After dropping him off I journey back home on the highway (it takes a joyful five minutes) I relax for an hour or so before starting work. Fighting off naps is probably the biggest struggle. Last week I made the rookie mistake of taking a nap at 1.30pm with every intention of it being a half-hour power nap. Well I only woke up at 4pm – which is the time I’m supposed to be on the road to pick up Maya and hubby. I felt horrible. Well rested but horrible because I’d wasted three valuable working hours. And the thing is – I can’t ignore what my body and baby craves. And that is rest. So the aim is to finish up on all my assignments by the first week of March. I keep having these nightmares/dreams that she’ll arrive sooner – oh the admin horror! Notifying all my commitments that I can’t complete the tasks – and also lose out on the money I’ve already budgeted for. But they say with the second, baby is bound to come later rather than sooner. So let me just relax.

Standing on the very precipice of labour is probably the worst time to start freelancing though so I guess this is not a real assessment of what funemployment is/should be like. In my panic to be able to take off two guilt-free months off I can’t afford to say no to the commissions coming in. First of all even after working in this industry for the past 9 years would you believe I still doubt my writing skills. It’s easy enough to edit and scribble all over someone else’s writing with the ‘track changes’ tool but when it comes to casting a critical eye over your own scrawlings – not as much. Will they be happy with it? Have I followed the brief? Will they commission me again? I always hold my breath when I attach my piece and click send… then I check it’s been sent and then I reread what I’ve sent and try to forget about it until I see the name of the commissioning editor pop into my inbox. And then of course, that unleashes a whole new wave of anguish.

And then of course, the money. When I used to be on the other side I used to think how presumptuous when a writer would attach their invoice in the same mail as the first draft of the commissioned piece. And nine times out of 10 there would be a problem with it. We’re not all the same but now with the roles reversed, I find it terribly embarrassing to hand in an invoice (to my own detriment) before you’ve received comment from the comm. ed. that they’re happy with it. Mostly though, this means you’ll probably miss that month’s accounts dept deadline and have to wait until the following month. I have to get the idea of pay day straight out of my head. It doesn’t exist for me.

But despite my moaning dear reader, I have to admit I no longer feel a weight on my shoulders. I snap less at my little girl when she comes home from school because truthfully, working in an office has its own sets of stress often only released at home. Sunday doesn’t fill me with a sense of dread – or ‘the fear’ as my husband calls it. The weeks are not as long. Nor the weekends too short. I can have lunch with a friend and not have to keep glancing at my watch. I can go shopping in the middle of the day and not at 5pm when the rest of the working population is doing it, or worse – over the weekend! It’s the little things that contribute to a better sense of being.

So for now, I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be.


7 thoughts on “on funemployment/freelancing

  1. yay! funemployment rocks! the whole life-work balance becomes less of a divided (or should i say hyphenated) line and more like experiencing ‘you’ in a seamless reality, day after day, in your own hours! so nice to know (and read) that you’re enjoying it. sure you will even more so when daughter # deux sweetly arrives on the scene… X

    • I’m sure it will get better when little Valentine arrives Then we can hang out at our favourite free wifi coffee spot and share our iTunes library with our Macs back to back while working 😉
      Main things: 1) By then the smell of brewing coffee hopefully will stop making me want to hurl 2) my main priority won’t be looking for coffee shops with ultra comfortable seating with lumbar support.

  2. I am in my second year of funemployment and I don’t see myself going back to what I did anytime soon, unless I get some once in lifetime kinda offer.

    The hardest thing for me at first was learning to keep a schedule. I felt like I was on a perpertual holiday. I, too, still wake up at 7am to wake up my daughter for school. Yes, at 14 with her own iPhone that has a working alarm, I still have to wake her up and make sure she leaves for school on time. At first I would then go back to back to “take a nap” and the next thing I knew, it was 3pm and she was coming home. I had to sit myself down and work out a proper schedule, which is working nicely for me now.

    I know all about your anxieties as the roles have now been reserved. Having been an editor myself, I came to completely understand the plight of those freelancers I had dealt with in my past life. The worst for me was how little publications wanted to pay me for my work. Here I am in New York and I have to pay rent here, go out to meet people, live, and someone wants to pay me R2 an hour. The trick, I found, is to work towards getting more permanent gigs so that you are not forced to go around with your proverbial begging bowl so much.

    All the best, lady. I know you will love it and you will make a success of this new area of your life. So excited for the new baby to arrive and to hear stories about her.


    • Lihle! I laugh at how your daughter still needs to be woken up. Such a typical teenager. LOL!
      My schedule is working out well. After that nap incident no more naps for me I’m afraid. I take a break at after the school run, one at lunch time and then before you know it I have to do the school run.

      One of my other anxieties – when people who have said they prefer being emailed questions don’t produce the answers on time and then ask you to call them at such and such a time. My nerves! One call obliterates half my cell phone budget. I’ve moved to a 240 talk package now and it’s not cheap. I watch it with a beady hawk eye. Feel so miserly but it has to be done. As soon as we buy that house I’ll be pleased to instal 1) a landline 2) wifi.
      Yes the payment story has a long way to go – even worse for you being in the US. Are you getting a lot of work out there too?

      Yeah I do need permanent gigs but this baby has put a break on most projects. Had to turn one down yesterday because my due date looms ever closer. And I really do need to rest. I haven’t even arranged or packed hospital bag for me and her, and I’ve just realised I need to wash all Maya’s old baby clothes, cot, car seat… and rearrange the room (and ours) to fit her things in nicely. She’ll be sleeping in a cot with us for the first few months but essentially sharing Maya’s room.

      Thanks for the visit. Lovely to hear the words of encouragement and what you’re up to.

  3. Good luck Zodwa and be kind to your pregnant self 🙂 those naps are essential. And thanks also Lihle for giving me a view of what freelancing can be like (the begging) I always romanticised it.

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