Back on the last day of December, I made the quaint statement that it looked as if January would be "a very busy month of work." The day before I made that statement, I had undertaken a project for one of my clients that had come out of nowhere. It wasn't scheduled, and at the time I accepted the job, I had no idea how much work was involved or the very tight deadline under which they needed the job completed.
For the last two weeks, as a result of this project, and two others I have been working on simultaneously, I have been drowning. So far this month, I have billed 60 hours of writing to my clients. This figure does not count the monthly work for my contract job. This figure does not include a new project with a new client that I'm starting on Friday. And the month is only half over.
I know this may not seem like a lot of work to those of you who work outside of your homes. I know for a fact that some of you put in 60 hours a week, and then come home every night to home and family responsibilities. But for me, 60 hours of writing and project management is a lot, a whole lot, when I'm chasing around a 16-month-old all day and trying to eek out 10 minutes of work here and there when she's otherwise occupied. I've been working late at night while Isabella is asleep, and early in the morning before she rises. I quit my 40-hour-a-week telecommuting gig for a reason. I ain't cut out for this kind of pressure.
So as a result of this glut of work, my home looks like a cyclone has torn through it, I have only half of my Christmas thank-you notes completed, and I am behind in reading your blogs, the later of which bugs me the most.
I also have a wicked cold, and on Sunday, I lost my voice. As in, completely. I conducted three client phone calls (one Sunday night and two yesterday) whispering into the telephone like a teenage prank caller.
So here's the deal. I'm having a hard time saying no to work. When I quit my FT job and started freelancing, I had this grand notion that I would have 10-15 hours a week of work, every week. If I had the occasional week where I had to work more than that, fine. But this would be the exception to an otherwise completely manageable schedule. 10-15 hours a week of writing for my business clients would give me ample time to develop a career writing for magazines, which is what I really want to do.
Guess what I've learned? The freelance world doesn't work like this. It is feast or famine. Phone ringing constantly or dead air. Inbox inundated or completely empty. Bills paid or bills delayed. Granted, since I quit my job, I've had steady work, but it has ebbed and flowed. January has been my busiest month by far.
Freelancing is hard work. It takes organization. It requires spot-on time management. And it requires balance (at least most of the time) to keep from going insane. But for the last two weeks, since making it a goal to craft a writing schedule to help me with these things, I have failed miserably in all three areas. I just haven't had the time.
Wanda Sykes is totally right. I need to get it together, baby. Problem is, I have no idea how to do it.
And with that, I am back to work.