The Hustle (May 18, 2009)

Not that I am complaining, because I realize how lucky I am to have the time, will and support to pursue my dreams, but man, independent contracting sure is tiring. Not so much the work itself, although it is a challenge to quickly get yourself up to speed on a given topic so that you can write about it is a manner that sounds informed and authoritative. The part that wears one out is the endless game of cat and mouse: the moment you finish a piece and get reimbursed for it, you are onto the next one. No time to breathe. In between, you are looking through the want ads for full-time, part-time, and yet still more freelance work. It never ends. However that is the nature of the beast, what I signed for, and, as a competitive person, I relish the idea of having to sell and prove myself over and over.

On a daily basis, I comb through and Craig’s List for freelance gigs. Then I am onto Monster and CareerBuilder for part-time and full-time writing work. It is important not to leave any of these four stones unturned. While it is true that Monster and CareerBuilder often overlap, the same cannot be said for Virtual Vocations or Craig’s List. I have to tip my hat to two women in my family, my A.D. and Jen, for bringing me up to speed on these venues in the Twitter age. The last time I was on the market for anything for a very brief period late in 2007. The career development landscape has apparently changed a good deal in 24 months.

So anyway, I have this image of myself, when I respond to the freelance writing gig posts, as a scalper selling premium seats outside Wrigley Field on game day. However instead of waving my product in the air repeating, “Tickets! Who needs tickets?,” I exchange the stubs for a copy of my resume, and my recent writing sample from StreetWise. Then I email blast each requestor with my information, as though they are so many sports fans parading down the sidewalk, offerring up my wares for bargain basement prices. It’s as though the game starts in 20 minutes and you can either accept the $15 bucks apiece being offerred to you by the father and his son, mitts in hand, or go home empty handed. To mix in yet another metaphor, every day is another episode of Let’s Make a Deal in my world. Do I respond to one of the endless requests for writers on short projects that entail no pay? Or do I hold out hope that those with some money in their budgets will like what they see from me?

I am an admitted control freak, though I have been trying to rehabilitate myself for the last nine months and counting. I am used to having things just so, and in the past, any threat to my equilibrium would keep me up all night. So what in the world am I doing venturing into freelance, with its hit and miss, stops and starts, and complete lack of security?

Answer: I am finally living.


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