Monday, November 10, 2008

Ah, the home office

Yes, I'm working from home today. My wonderful boss at the Ottawa Writers Festival gave us the day off (given the fact that we did 12-hour days for ten days in a row, I suppose it should be expected, but I was still surprised!)

And because I am a bit of a work-aholic, love my work, and am trying to inject new life into my freelance career, I'm working on my 'day off.' And it's great!

The sun filters in as I watch the day outside turn from sunny to wet-snowy, to grey with patches of vibrant blue. A tiny boxer puppy seems to smell something interesting on my patch of grass ... his owner tugs him along. The phone rings; I take diligent messages for my roommates.

And the mail comes!

All my life I've loved the mail. I procrastinated on the whole email thing because I knew it would be one more reason to avoid snail mail. In the late 90s I was still writing letters, pasting together photo collages and sneaking in little stickers and ticket stubs to more tangibly share memories with friends. Some snail mail allies would even write back, and I have tons of colourful, sentimental scrawlings in basement boxes.

But email came, and letters went. Or did they?

As a freelancer, I still get cheques in the mail. I know a lot of freelancers complain about the inconsistency of the invoicing system, but I sort of like it. Yes, I've had to hound editors who've had to hound accounts payable who maybe never even got the invoice, and I guess I'm luck because my rent is low and my bills even lower.

But there's something in the NOT knowing. Something in the limbo -- a sense that it could all be taken out from underneath you -- that keeps me working hard and prevents me from taking anything for granted. When I do month-by-month projections (ok, these are more like passing thoughts will running than Excel spreadsheets), I just kind of hope and visualize library trips, hours at the local coffee shop, frugal meals and quiet afternoons.

Yes, I'm on a contract now that gives me a regular paycheque. And yet I welcome the return to full-time freelance.

Maybe my hopeful tone is just because I got mail today, but it's worth noting that I did not receive a cheque. No, I got a stack of Ottawa Citizen Style Magazine, sent to me by my editor, who seems to think there's more work to be had and that I might just succeed in this game.

I also received the journal that my fiance and I correspond in. He's in Connecticut, and he gave me this hard cover book in Hawaii when we first parted in December 2007. Back and forth it goes, filled with hope and love and scrawling... looks like I have another ally in the snail mail underworld.

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