As a freelance author, editor and speaker, I haven’t had a “real job” since 1982. That also means I haven’t had a regular paycheck, health insurance, pension, or paid vacation. But before you think I’m sending out invitations to a pity party, let me assure you that it’s been worth the white-knuckle trust that bills will get paid and the sleepless nights when there’s no paying work the next day—like right now. So, I’m writing this to assure myself that:
I don’t have a regular paycheck, but I don’t have regular hours either, so I’m free to babysit two adorable granddaughters one day a week, be there to help my daughter through the various challenges of her divorce, and drop everything to take off to Michigan to help care for my mom. (I just got back from having lunch with oldest granddaughter during “Grandparent’s Day” at her school.)
I don’t have paid vacations, but I’m free to sit on the porch and read a good book whenever the weather is nice and work is slow. This year I’ve been able to speak at sixteen conferences across America and stay in some very nice hotels and be entertained at some very nice restaurants, sit on the beach of Lake Michigan, and enjoy the Rocky Mountains from my lodge.
I don’t have a pension, but I have such a wealth of friends as a result of my writing and speaking; so many rich emails and letters saying that I have encouraged people along their life journey; and so many precious memories of moments with family that I would never been afforded if I was off working at a real job.
Yes, I’d love a regular paycheck, health insurance, pension, or paid vacation. And, yes, it can be frightening being one project away from homelessness. But life is a trade-off and——at least for me—freelancing offers freedom that a “real” job can’t. And my prayer life has never been better!
Copyright © James N. Watkins
• Hope and humor for writers