Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another Word for ‘Freelance’ Is...?

“Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends....”

Remember last month, when I said I wasn’t going to wait for any contracted work to present itself, and that I was just going to get on with writing something, because I was feeling the itch after taking a bit of a sabbatical?

Well, let that be a lesson for you: Don’t tempt fate.

January indeed was a good month so far as pursuing a passion project or two. I finished the revisions on two different stories, and while I was a bit worried about the downturn in steady, paying work I’d enjoyed for a good portion of last year, I was excited at being able to devote time and energy to stories I wanted to write just because I wanted to write them. Whether I might be able to sell them somewhere was and remains a secondary consideration.

After all, another word for ‘freelance’ is ‘resourceful.’

Then I started talking to people about the possibility of contributing something to an anthology for later this year, and something else for an ongoing author-created/"shared-world" novel series. I was giving serious thought to ideas for the novel, and I thought the story for the anthology might actually be my next writing project. There would be no money up front, but the possibility of good e-Book and print-on-demand sales looked promising, and I’d been looking for a way to experiment on such platforms. Good work is where you find it, right?

Another word for ‘freelance?’ That would be ‘agreeable.’

Then, an editor came a’calling. Someone I like, and with whom I enjoy working, wanted to gauge my interest in writing a novel, likely to be published next year. “Absolutely,” I said.

Hey, another word for ‘freelance’ is ‘eager.’

With all of that decided, said editor then asked if I was available for another, smaller project which was getting set to be fast-tracked for publication a bit later this year. Once again, I said, “Sure!” Why? Because yet another word for ‘freelance’ is ‘opportunistic.’

And so, just like that, my writing plate went from being somewhat lacking to full. How fast did things turn around? I got the call last Monday—which included the contract, schedule and payment terms—after which I submitted an outline for the project that Thursday evening, and got approval to start writing the next day. Only because I trust this editor could I be comfortable getting started while the contracts are still being drafted and sent to me. I’ve got a due date, and so a week ago I got cracking.

But, no sooner do I rethink my schedule for the next couple of months than another editor/friend of mine drops me a note, asking about my availability for a project currently in the very early planning stages. Though info was sketchy at this point, I still indicated my interest in principle, because it sounds like it could be fun. Based on expected due dates, that will require reshuffling my calendar a bit toward the end of summer in order to accommodate this new project. And now, we’re soon going to be talking about yet another, separate venture.

This business can be flat-out crazy, on occasion, and the level of crazy often shifts by the day, if not the hour.

“But what about those passion projects, Dayton?” I can hear someone asking. Well, I haven’t forgotten them, of course, but now they’ll get re-slotted in and around these and other tasks as time permits. When you’ve got two kids in school and tuition checks to write, paying work has to come first.

Man, acting like a responsible adult can be such a bummer, some times.

Such is the life of a freelance writer, because another word for ‘freelance,’ as you doubtless know or now have figured out, is ‘adaptable.’ That’s probably the best, most concise way to describe a successful freelancer, whether they’re a writer or pursuing some other profession.

For those of you who also travel this path or who one day hope to do so, here’s hoping your life as a freelancer is just as crazy, just as successful, and just as rewarding.

6 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

the couple of times I decided to move further into freelancing proved disastrous for these kinds of reasons. I was still working my teaching job, of course, but I started accepting freelance assignments and then the school work suddenly piled on. I got everything done both those times but nearly killed myself doing it. Never again. Not until I'm retiring.

KeVin K. said...

The major stumbling block to my freelancing full time has been my personality. (Actually some would argue my personality is pretty much my universal stumbling block.) Last July with much fanfare I announced I would write all original fiction full time. I'd salted a few dollars away in anticipation and thought I could weather the short-term zero cash flow while working on my own passion projects. Three of my many personality flaws conspired against me: accommodation, optimism, and pride. Accommodation in that when I as writer was perceived by all and sundry as having copious free time, thus giving them license to call on me for favors, errands, etc., I didn't nip this in the bud. Optimism in that when several (too many to list here) real-world things went wrong and ate my cash reserves I persisted in believing it would all turn around any second. Pride in that after publicly giving up work-for-hire to go all original, I put off admitting I was again looking for work way too long. My optimism remains intact, but a bit more grounded in reality; I've let it be known I'm now working full time & not available for anything; and my pride is staying in the corner where it belongs.
So while it doesn't fit your "another word" model, in addition to everything else a freelancer has to be a humble but selfish pragmatist.
(Today my original work is on hold as I write for one game, edit for another and negotiate with a third. I'm still managing to avoid honest work, but I need three more projects pronto.)

Liane Spicer said...

It's hard to reconcile media tie-in with the reality of the rest of publishing in my head. It sounds so - sane! (And yes, I know you guys had to work really hard to get to this point.)

Stewart Sternberg said...

I used to be a freelance journalist. That was short-lived. It was tremendously difficult, especially since so much of at the time seemed to depend on luck--and the pay was crap. Of course, I was only selling to local newspapers and magazines..and this was many years ago, but luck kept rearing its head and spitting on me. I then realized that some of those who pushed ahead of me made their own luck. They were willing to spend time and do things that I wasn't willing to do. And so the survival of the fittest kicked in and I dropped out, moving instead to social work, then teaching, and keeping my hand in fiction writing.

Good post. Made me think. And may I tip my hat to you and give you a bit of admiration.

Lynn Emery said...

Yeah, I once juggled 4 deadlines. Never. Again. Congrats on the change from dry spell to cup runneth over!

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