Friday, October 21, 2011

Damn You, Economy

It's finally caught up to me. I thought I was very lucky over the past two years when it came to economic security. Sure, as a freelance writer the work was never exactly "secure" but I was feeling pretty good about the money I was making. Was. Now, I wish I had listened to the same old advice all seasoned freelancers dish out (including myself on occasion): NEVER depend on a single job/project/client, even if the money is good. I've learned my lesson. Again.

Because of this great opportunity I had, I've been out of the current freelance market for about two years. Although I do the occasional paid blog post or paid Twitter ad, 99% of my income came from a single job. And I liked it. I still do. But the whole thing is being revamped, restructured--whatever business term you want to use for it--and there's a potential it could be gone at any moment. At least for me. I'm sure the company will survive, just maybe not with as many hands on deck as they used to have.

I did what any shy, sensitive writer would do. I sat down and cried for three days, staring at a computer screen that said work was not currently available. In recent days work has been available, but not nearly the amount I am used to.

Getting back on the horse is the appropriate metaphor for this situation, but the freelance market has changed drastically in the past two years. First thing I noticed was the number of jobs available. It's probably about half of what it was in 2009 (at least where I look for it). The second thing I noticed was that the stakes are much higher, though the pay seems to remain the same. I came across many ads for jobs that required a master's degree. A master's? You mean I worked for 4 1/2 years for a bachelor's and that's just not good enough anymore? Now I'm not only sad, but angry at the thought that my skills are no longer competitive in this market.

And like I've talked about in past posts, I was looking to branch out, making a more stable career for myself. Something in journalism or book publishing. I still don't have the right skills to be considered for these jobs. Now with the thought that my savings account could be empty in a couple of months, that internship is slipping through my fingers before I even finish the cover letter. I can't pay for travel to get an interview (if one was offered), let alone the money I would need to live during the internship if I was lucky enough to get it. 

What can I do now? Many have told me to just go and work at Walmart. "At least it's a paycheck." I've seen too many great creative minds fall into this trap. Once you start looking at a job as nothing more than a paycheck, you've lost something of yourself. It's hard to get back to the dream that you started out with. I don't have a family to support. I don't need all the extras I like to buy. The work that's "just a paycheck" should be available to someone who really needs it. I can't let myself think of a job as just a way to get money. I want to be happy with what I do. And call me young and naive, but I still have that thought in the back of my head that I want to make a difference somehow with what I do.

In this economy, I am still lucky compared to many. For now I still have a roof over my head and food in the fridge. My whining doesn't mean a thing to anyone who can't say that for themselves. I just don't know where to go from here. If I don't make a bold move (whatever that may be), I'll never get to experience what's out there. Money makes the world go 'round. So how bold can anyone really be with $20 in their pocket?

1 comment:

Authentic Tiff said...

Sorry to hear about your current situation. I'm about to graduate with my BA in Psyc. And it just feels like things have gotten so much worse since I've started school. It really sucks.

I agree with the whole just getting a paycheck thing. People lose that creative vibe - that thing that helps people feel alive. My bro is a tattoo artist and it's something he loves to do but he sometimes wish he had another job because he's not doing as well financially.

You don't have any kids or anything, so I think it's even more initiative to continue doing what you're passionate about. I have a child, so my love of writing would have to be more of a side gig than my 9 to 5.

I hope everything works out for you.