Why freelance? The question comes up, particularly when clients are being difficult or hard to come by – or both. Why bear the responsibility of being one’s own business when you could just as easily work under someone else’s roof, earn half the hourly rate, and halve your worry as well?
When we walked away from employment we left behind a kind of stability, or at least the perception thereof. We replaced the certainty of structure with the question of action. Would our actions produce enough business to keep us in business? Or did this sort of rainmaking power belong exclusively to those who owned the firms that had previously employed us?
Survival isn’t the only source of distress. As a freelancer, I have seen some highly disquieting things. I have flown hundreds of miles only to have the marketing VP of a major Hollywood studio yawn in my face, her sharpened teeth plainly showing. I have been stonewalled by an ex-NBA All Star, even though he hired me. I have watched clients for whom English was clearly a foreign language systematically overwrite my work, word by word, until little more remained than the ashes of a subhead, a comma, an ellipse . . .
So why freelance? The short answer is naps – and the inherent freedom, health, and creativity embodied therein. I first discovered naps when I parted ways with coffee eight years ago. (Naps are the uncoffee.) Conveniently, I had a couch in my home office, and very catlike, I simply lay down every time the coffee I wasn’t drinking anymore made its absence felt. Since then, I have established a culture of napping throughout my organization. That is, I still keep a couch in my office. I find it makes the workforce more productive and less likely to become cranky, which boosts effectiveness and customer satisfaction.
Now I hear tell some companies have incorporated napping into their own cultures, nap rooms and all. Well kudos to them, but who’s to say this nap-friendly policy will last come tough times? Will the powers-that-be continue to see the value in taking the edge off for twenty minutes each afternoon? Or will they crack the productivity whip and force you to snooze in front of your monitor, risking a stiff neck and already fuzzy dreams slightly fuzzier with low-level radiation?
In point of fact, doesn’t this nap-while-the-napping’s good scenario perfectly illustrate the fundamental fallacy of employment – that it somehow offers greater stability than you can give yourself? As a freelance writer, I’ve seen creatives hired and fired in a matter of months as agencies gained and lost accounts. I think it’s safe to extrapolate that in losing their jobs, they probably lost whatever napping privileges they’d had as well.
Don’t get me wrong; I still sometimes question the course I’ve chosen, but when I do, I always remind myself: at least I know where my next nap is coming from!