When Home and Work Collide

I have the privilege and curse of working from home. Maybe you work from home and can relate:

The Privilege:

  1. I can work in my jammies and often do. Sometimes I set up these bizarre deadlines for myself like, I need to write 500 more words before I take a shower.
  2. I can work/write around the rest of my life. Throw in a load of laundry before tackling chapter four. Toss some meat and veggies in the Crockpot while I figure out what to do with Amber’s drunk mother.
  3. Flexible Hours. Some weeks I put in thirty hours and write ten thousand words, other weeks I put in zero hours and, you guessed it, write zero words. When my kids were babies, much of my manuscript was written in ten-minute bursts. You get what you can get. Gotta roll with it.
  4. I don’t have a boss. Well I do, but it’s me. The buck stops with me. (This also falls in the “curse” list. See item 1.) Recently, during the editing process, this kind of changed. I don’t have a boss, but I do have an editor/publisher who has the right to say, “Please get through these edits in the next ten days” Ten days? 300+ pages? Oke-doke! Actually, having someone else kick me into gear was a welcome change.

The Curse:

  1. Unless I make myself sit my butt in the chair and work, the work doesn’t get done. And there are oodles of other things that fight for my attention—bills to pay, cobwebs to sweep (I just noticed a big one on my ceiling fan but, case in point, I’m writing instead of swiping it), field trips to chaperone, puppies to train. It’s Thursday and, truth be told, I have not “found time to write” yet this week. Today’s the day by the way, after this warm-up, prewriting post. And after I run to the grocery store. And wash jeans.
  2. I can’t do the coffee shop thing. I wish I could. It seems so cool, so writerly to sit and sip and click away but I’ve tried and I can’t because I get caught up, in a rather ADD kind of way, in the stories around me: Ooh! Cute boots! Do I know her? I think I know her. Where do I know her from?! Are they breaking up over there? What book is she reading? The cover looks good. Even though I try not to, I end up getting sucked into other people’s conversation, i.e. eavesdropping (perfect fodder for creativity by the way). So unless it’s uninhabited and virtually silent, I typically can’t write in coffee shops. Bummer.
  3. The pay usually doesn’t match the effort. I recently heard that only 5-10% of published book writers make enough to support themselves—and they’re hardly well-off. The rest of us have other jobs or depend on a spouse’s income. (Thank you Honey!) This isn’t a complaint; it’s a reality. Don’t attempt to write for a living unless you love it, unless you “have to write” because yeah… the pay is peanuts. Fortunately, I’m rather fond of peanuts.
  4. I can’t leave work at work. There may be “banker’s hours” but there are no “writer’s hours”. So when the perfect verb finally jumps to my mind at two in the morning, I rummage my nightstand for a pencil and try not to wake up the hubby.
  5. It’s lonely. Again, not a complaint, a reality. It’s me and my computer and the mess in my head. My connections with other writers/editors are mostly virtual… websites, emails etc. Except for the conferences I attend maybe one every two years, I don’t go out to lunch with my co-workers, editors, or other writers. This is one reason I teach classes and tutor—for the chance to talk to real live people about writing.

So writing from home may not be a dream job, but it’s my dream job because I wouldn’t want to do any thing else.