Flexible hours worked well for me. I’m wired to write in the earliest hours of the day. When I was writing the Matusow book, my day started at 4:30 am. At about 10:00 am, I’d take a 2 mile walk to clear my head. Afternoons and evenings were dedicated to research and rough drafts.
Being unproductive, however, was a problem for me. As a freelancer, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Since work is never a given, it’s hard not to take on more. More is what you strive for. Lining up your next article or next gig is part of a daily routine. Weekends became a technicality. Taking a vacation equated to a little less work for a little less pay in a different locale.
Working a day job has taken some getting used to. An ipod became a must. Office attire is decidedly casual, but pajamas don’t cut it. I haven’t found a good way to recharge during the day without my mid-morning walk. And starting to write at 8:30 or 9:00 means I miss out on some of my most productive hours.
One of the hardest adjustments, surprisingly enough, was NOT working. Out of habit, I filled my “off time” with “on time.” This summer, I made it my quest to figure out how not to work. And I figured one of the best ways to do that was to remove myself from the grid — and Austin — for awhile.
Today’s pictures are from places I didn’t work over the last two months.
I didn’t work in Newport RI. I didn’t work on Lake Cochituate. I definitely didn’t work on the Isle of Palms, SC. I also didn’t work while installing the new tile in my guest bathroom. (pictures pending — want to finish my touch up painting to do it justice)
I did guilty pleasure reading. I went through about a 40-issue backlog of The New Yorker. I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire (Vintage). I started reading Hitch-22: A Memoir, but I am reading it very slowly. Hithens’ use of language is so extraordinary, I find myself reading the same sentence over and over, marveling at its construction.
I started my day job in April 2008. The subprime crisis was in full swing and I was afraid of how it might spread to the broader economy. As much as I liked freelancing, it wasn’t where I wanted to be when the shit hit the fan.
For the first few months of work, I thought maybe I had overreacted. But the day Lehman Brothers went under, I realized I had underestimated the size of the shit storm.
I miss freelancing, but I’m grateful I gave it up when I did. I’m certainly glad to have a steady income, which is something of a luxury in this economy. I still get paid to do something I love — which is an amazing feat unto itself.
This summer I also lost my home writing partner and biggest critic, Java. I’m not sure how I would have done trying to work from home without her. Even now, it’s hard to post, knowing her name will pop up as the author.
I’m also grateful that I figured out how not to work. I’m declaring my summer experiment and self-imposed exile a success. I feel more able to control my on-grid time and enjoy my off-grid time. And now that my experiment is behind me, I’ll be slipping back on-blog more often.